Future Mitsubishis will feature elements of the e-Evolution concept from the 2017 Tokyo show

Future Mitsubishis will feature elements of the e-Evolution concept from the 2017 Tokyo show

The final make to be looked at in the Groupe Renault and Nissan Motor series is Mitsubishi Motors (MMC). Earlier insights focused on Alpine and Renault, Dacia, Lada, RSM, Datsun, Nissan and Infiniti.

'Drive for Growth', a strategic plan which runs to the end 2021, is Mitsubishi's map to financial sustainability. In addition to the introduction of 11 new or facelifted models, DfG calls for increases of more than 30 per cent in both annual unit sales (to 1.3 million vehicles) and in revenues (to JPY2.5tr) as well as an operating margin of six per cent by the end of fiscal 2019.

The XPander and Eclipse Cross, both introduced in 2017, were the first two of the eventual 11 vehicles. MMC says that by the time DfG has run its three-year course, SUVs, 4WDs and PHEV should account for 70 per cent of the sales volume.

EVs & PHEVs

The launch of the i-MiEV (Mitsubishi Innovative Electric Vehicle, based on the MMC i) took place in Japan in July 2009. The little car has had a few updates and is still manufactured, albeit in small volumes. Models based on this tiny EV were created by MMC for PSA, with the Peugeot iOn and Citroen C-Zero becoming available in various European markets from late 2010. Even though very few are sold, they remain available.

A special version of the i-MiEV went on sale in the USA during Q3, 2011. It premiered at the Los Angeles auto show in November 2010 as the 2012 Mitsubishi i and was 285mm longer and 110mm wider than the i-MiEV sold elsewhere in the world. The i became available in all 50 US states during 2012. There was a name change to i-MiEV for the 2014 model year. The US and Canadian importers discontinued the i-MiEV at the end of their 2017 model years.

Production of the i-MiEV, iOn and C-Zero should end in the coming months. None of the cars will be directly replaced although there will be a sort-of successor model for the Japanese market.

Mitsubishi Motors and the then Renault-Nissan Alliance (now Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi) issued a statement to the media in November 2013 concerning a proposed expansion of NMKV, their mini-vehicle ('Kei') manufacturing joint venture.

The companies said at the time that they intend to "co-develop a new small-segment car including a specific electric version that can be sold globally. The basis for this product will be from a jointly-developed 'Kei car' platform of the type popular in the Japanese domestic market. Further details of all products, markets and manufacturing will be announced separately". Unlike the i-MiEV, which is a five-door hatchback, the new model vehicle will likely be a mini-SUV.

MMC told the media in October 2017 that the Kei-EV would not now be released until 2020.

There should be another small EV for the Mitsubishi line-up in 2020. This B-segment model is said to be under development in parallel with the next generation Renault Zoe. It might instead be added in 2021.

The Eupheme is a special model for China. This 4,510mm long plug-in hybrid (PHEV) SUV went on sale in March. Designed by GAC, it is manufactured in Changsha by GMMC, the joint venture between MMC and Guangzhou Automobile Group. GMMC should facelift the Eupheme in 2021 and replace it in 2025.

The Outlander PHEV is easily the company's best selling plug-in model. It can be an EV, a series hybrid or a parallel hybrid. This SUV has been especially popular in the UK and some other European markets where generous incentives exist or have existed for hybrids which can be externally recharged. Various national sales companies in the region were quick to see the opportunity for business users via low taxation bands, which is one of the main reasons why Britain became the car's number one market worldwide.

Japan was the first market for the Outlander Plug-In Hybrid, the model going on sale there in January 2013. There were multiple delays in getting it approved for sale in the USA but these were finally resolved, with the first deliveries taking place in December 2017.

No further changes are due for the Outlander PHEV. The second generation model is set to become available in 2020. Its development is said to have restarted on an Alliance platform. This will likely be CMF-C/D. 

See below for details of other electrified models: PHEV versions of the future RVR/ASX/Outlander Sport, Outlander and Pajero/Montero/Shogun.

Kei vehicles

The eK Space, a mini-vehicle which has been available in Japan since 2013, is the twin of the Nissan Dayz Roox. Seven years ago, in one of the first agreements which would eventually lead to the full integration of Mitsubishi Motors into the Renault-Nissan Alliance, MMC and Nissan Motor agreed to co-develop all future Kei-class models. This JV continues and is known as NMKV (Nissan Mitsubishi Kei Vehicles).

The next generation eK Space should be closely based on the EV which Mitsubishi says it will launch in 2020 (see above: EVs & PHEVs). These cars should use an adaptation of the existing NMKV architecture, modified to take the weight of a battery pack. MMC's two other NMKV models are the eK Wagon and eK Custom. They, along with their Dayz and Dayz Highway Star Nissan equivalents, should be replaced in 2019.

MMC also buys in mini-vehicles from Suzuki. The Town Box and Minicab are 3,395mm long upright micro-minivans. Each went on sale in Japan in February 2014 and there is a pick-up version of the Minicab too. The replacements will become part of NMKV and they should be launched in 2020.

Pick-up

The fifth generation of MMC's only pick-up was shown to the media in November 2014. The L200/Triton uses an evolution of the previous model's body-on-frame architecture and is built in Thailand at Laem Chabang #2. MMC has three factories at this site. Exports got underway in February 2015.

MMC supplies the Fullback, a pick-up based on the L200, to Fiat Professional for selected markets.

A facelifted model will go on sale later this year. There should be a second update in 2021. The next L200/Triton is due for launch in 2023. It will use an evolution of the Nissan Navara NP300/Frontier's platform. Originally, MMC had been expected to replace its pick-up in 2021 or 2022. The delay is due to Nissan and Mitsubishi teams having needed time to see which vehicle projects could be combined as the triple-diamond logo brand was brought into what is now the R-N-M Alliance. This followed the May 2016 purchase of a controlling interest in MMC by Nissan.

US dealers are keen to have a mid-size pick-up so Nissan is said to be investigating the possibility of developing such a model and building it in Mexico. The truck would be based on the NP300 Frontier.

MPVs

The Delica D:2 is a small minivan. It is sold mainly in Japan and has been supplied to Mitsubishi Motors by Suzuki Motor since January 2016. It is a version of the latter's Solio Hybrid. Given that the Suzuki has been around since the third quarter of 2015, any replacement would be due towards the end of 2019. MMC may instead decide to discontinue this model next year.

Nissan began supplying Mitsubishi's Japanese dealer network with the Delica D:3 minivan and the Delica Van delivery van in October 2011. They are slightly altered versions of the Nissan Vanette (NV200 in some markets). The sole engine for the Delica D:3 and Delica Van is a 1.6-litre petrol unit. A new Delica D:3 should go on sale in Japan in 2020.

The styling of the Xpander, an MPV, was previewed by both the Concept AR from the 2014 Geneva motor show and the XM, a second concept which was revealed at the Jakarta motor show in August 2016. The XM would be revealed in early August 2017, MMC then announced. This was at the Jakarta motor show. The 4,475mm long Xpander went into production in October 2017.

This purpose-designed vehicle began to be exported to neighbouring ASEAN markets, including The Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam in February. There may yet be a Nissan version of the Mitsubishi compact MPV. The original is due to be facelifted in 2021 and 2024 and then replaced in 2027.

The Delica D:5, an aged model which is sold mostly in Japan and China, was revealed at an event in Japan in October 2006. Looking almost exactly the same as the D5 concept from the 2005 Tokyo show, this minivan is the fifth generation model in a series which first appeared in 1968.

The replacement model is expected to go on sale in Japan during the final quarter of 2018. It should be closely related to the Xpander and may even be built in Thailand.

Cars

The 3,710mm long Mirage, marketed in some countries as the Space Star, was the replacement for the Colt. It had its global debut at the Tokyo motor show in November 2011. Mitsubishi's third Thai plant builds this model for all markets, with the same factory supplying kits to MMPC (Mitsubishi Motors Philippines Corporation) for local assembly.

There was a minor facelift in May 2015 (new front bumper, indicators in the door mirrors). This was followed just six months later by a more extensive update, the restyled Mirage premiering at November 2015's LA auto show. Surprisingly, yet another set of changes premiered at the Jakarta motor show in August 2016.

The successor, due in 2019, should use the same MMC Global Small architecture.

The Attrage/Mirage G4 is a four-door version of the five-door hatchback Mirage/Space Star. It was announced by Mitsubishi Motors in May 2013 and went on sale in Thailand two months later. Its successor will likely lag the next hatchback by around 12 months, meaning a market release in 2020. FCA may renew an agreement that it has with MMC for the supply of a rebadged Attrage. This little sedan is presently exported from Thailand to Mexico where it is sold as the Dodge Attitude.

The Attrage and its derivatives are made at Laem Chabang in Factory #3.

At the moment, MMC has no B segment/Subcompact car. This situation should be remedied in 2020 or 2021, when a new model based upon the next generation Renault Clio is added. It will likely be built in Thailand and/or Europe.

The Grand Lancer is a C segment sedan which has been available in Taiwan and China since late 2017. It is a heavily modified version of the previous Lancer so not exactly a highly competitive model. Mitsubishi seems unlikely to offer this car for too many years. Instead, it will probably be replaced by a truly new sedan and hatchback range based upon the Renault-Nissan Alliance's CMF-C/D architecture. That should happen in 2021 with the Lancer name expected to return.

Crossovers and SUVs

The RVR (Japan) or ASX (Europe) or Outlander Sport (North America) is a production version of the Concept-cX from the Frankfurt motor show in September 2007. It was launched in Japan in February 2010 and had its motor show premiere in Geneva the following month as the ASX.

This vehicle, a rival for the Peugeot 2008, Ford EcoSport, Opel/Vauxhall Mokka, Renault Captur and others, is now in the last part of its lifecycle.

This replacement for the RVR/Outlander Sport/ASX is expected to share styling elements with two concepts: the XR-PHEV plug-in hybrid, which was revealed at November 2013's Tokyo motor show; and a modified version, the XR-PHEV II, from the 2015 Geneva show. Both were powered by a 1.1-litre, three-cylinder, direct-injection turbocharged petrol engine and an electric motor. There should also be a high performance 'Evolution' variant of the production model, in the style of the Audi RS Q3. Unlike other Mitsubishi SUVs, no plug-in hybrid variant is expected but instead, there should be a plug-in (EV) variant. The R-N-M Alliance's CMF-B architecture should be the basis of this model.

The Eclipse Cross, one of the brand's newest models, is smaller than the Outlander but around the same size as the RVR/ASX/Outlander Sport. Its world premiere was at the 2017 Geneva motor show. Production commenced at Okazaki in Japan during October 2017. The first engine is a 1.5-litre petrol turbo with outputs of 120kW and 250Nm. Transmission choice is between a six-speed manual or a CVT with eight pre-programmed steps. All-wheel drive can only be ordered with the CVT. There should be a facelift in the second quarter of 2021 and a replacement in the third quarter of 2024.

The third generation Outlander (Outlander EX in some markets) had its global debut at the Geneva motor show in March 2012. It uses the same platform as the previous generation model. A major restyle was revealed at the New York auto show in April 2015.

The fourth generation Outlander should be released during the second half of 2020. It is expected to be larger and to be based on a Renault-Nissan Alliance architecture. Some of the styling influences should be from the GT-PHEV concept which premiered at the 2016 Paris motor show.

The current Pajero Sport (Pajero Dakar, Montero Sport or Nativa in the Americas and Shogun Sport in the UK) had its world premiere at an event in Bangkok in August 2015. It is not sold in the US or Canada. The US importer says the model would need to be widened to satisfy US rollover laws. Based on the L200 pick-up, it has a ladder-frame chassis and is made at Laem Chabang in Factory #1 and Factory #2.

The latest model went on sale in Thailand in October 2015, with the global roll-out then following to Australia, selected ASEAN nations, then countries in the Middle East, Africa, Latin America and then Russia. The car will eventually be sold in some 90 countries. In the Thai market, a 2.5-litre four-cylinder diesel is standard, linked to an eight-speed automatic transmission.

MMC stated in September 2017 that it considered the Russian market to have become strong enough for it to resume production of the Pajero Sport at the plant it shares with Groupe PSA. Kaluga, which is 180km south west of Moscow, added 440 workers and switched to two shifts in January.

MMC's largest SUV is the Pajero. This model is now approaching its 19th birthday, having been launched in Japan in September 1999. An updated version, which MMC called the fourth generation, went on sale there in October 2006, just days after its premiere at the Paris motor show.

The vehicle is no longer sold in the US. This had once been its largest market. It continues to be available in five-seat short wheelbase and seven-seat long wheelbase forms in multiple other markets. The Shogun name is used in the UK, Montero in Spanish-speaking markets, and Pajero in the Asia-Pac region.

MMC revealed its potential thinking behind what could have been the next model by displaying a design study for a plug-in hybrid, the Concept GC-PHEV ('Grand Cruiser') at the Tokyo motor show in November 2013.

Following the takeover of the company by Nissan, a new model has been pushed back until late 2020. It should share an architecture with the replacements for the Nissan Patrol and Infiniti QX80. A PHEV is considered a near-certainty and would be aimed at the US market in particular. As has been the case for decades, Japanese production should be at Pajero Manufacturing Co., Ltd.

Future model plan reports for other manufacturers can be viewed in the OEM product strategy summaries section of just-auto.com.

Future product program intelligence

Details of the full, worldwide Mitsubishi line-up as well as additional data on vehicle lifetime and future product plans, such as code names, production plants and expected annual build, are available in PLDB from QUBE.

The next OEM for just-auto's in-depth examination of current and future models will be Groupe PSA. Peugeot is first, to be followed by Citroën, DS and Opel-Vauxhall.

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