Its owner Nissan Motor says Mitsubishi Motors ‘ vehicles won’t be fully integrated into the newly expanded R-N-M Alliance’s system of architectures until 2020, possibly later. Conventional SUVs, plug-in hybrids, battery-electric small cars and high performance e-SUVs will step by step become the speciality of MMC.

Just a few weeks ago, Mitsubishi Motors Corporation (MMC) announced ‘Drive for Growth‘, a new three-year strategic plan. The goals are to deliver sustained and profitable growth plus increases of more than 30 per cent in both annual unit sales to 1.3 million vehicles and in revenues to JPY2.5tr.

The company’s operating margin for the year ending 31 March 2017 was just point six of a per cent but under Drive for Growth, MMC has a target of attaining six percent operating profit by the end of fiscal 2019. Numbers for the first half of fiscal 2017-18 were recently announced, and the news was good.

Of 11 new models to be released during the life of Drive for Growth, only six will be truly new. The remaining five will be mere facelifts. The XPander and Eclipse Cross are the first two additional vehicles. By the end of the plan, the company expects its five best-selling global models consisting of “SUV, 4WD, and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV) to account for 70% of total sales volume”.

EVs & PHEVs

The i MiEV (‘EYE-meev’) experimental electric car had a hyphen added to its name for the production version. The launch of the i-MiEV (Mitsubishi Innovative Electric Vehicle, based on the MMC i) took place in Japan in July 2009. The company began leases to private customers in Japan from April 2010 and exports to RHD and LHD markets from the end of that year. The i-MiEV looks almost identical to the former Mitsubishi i but has LED headlamps and tail-lights and of course a motor instead of a combustion engine.

Versions of the i-MiEV for Peugeot (iOn) and Citroen (C-Zero) were launched in various European markets from late 2010. Even though very few are sold, they remain available in selected European countries.

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, but there was no 2015MY car. The i-MiEV returned for the US’ 2016 model year: it went on sale in March 2015. The 2017 model year i-MiEV was announced in February 2016: there were no changes. The US and Canadian importers have both just discontinued the i-MiEV, as at the end of their 2017 model years.

Mitsubishi Motors Deutscheland renamed the i-MiEV in March 2014: in Germany, the car is now the Mitsubishi Electric Vehicle.

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”. The plug-in car would be the replacement for the i-MiEV but rather than a five-door hatchback, some believe the vehicle will be a mini-SUV.

MMC told the media in October that a 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 electric car would be larger and is said to be under development in parallel with the next generation Renault Zoe. It might instead be added in 2021.

The Outlander PHEV is easily the company’s best selling plug-in model. It 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 the UK became the car’s number one market worldwide.

This SUV had its global debut at the Paris motor show in September 2012. MMC claimed it to be the world’s first production car with permanent four-wheel drive and electric drive. It can be an EV, a series hybrid or a parallel hybrid.

The Outlander PHEV has a powertrain similar in principle to that of the Chevrolet Volt: the vehicle is an EV with a petrol engine as a back-up range extender. It differs in having a motor at the front as well as at the rear, giving it all-wheel drive. The 2.0-litre engine has a claimed output of 87kW and each motor has a stated output of 60kW. MMC says the range can be up to 800km with its CO2 average rated at below 50g/km.

The Outlander Plug-In Hybrid went on sale in Japan in January 2013. Sales in European markets followed from November 2013, with cars for the UK delayed until April 2014. A facelifted model was announced in June 2015.

After various delays, US sales will finally get underway in December, for the 2018 model year. This has been due to Mitsubishi having to modify the car by fitting a battery-monitoring unit.

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. 

Kei vehicles

The eK Space was the replacement for the Toppo, a mini-vehicle sold mostly in Japan. It was announced in October 2013 and had its world premiere at the next month’s Tokyo motor show, as did its twin, the Nissan Dayz Roox.

In March 2013, MMC had announced that it would launch a so-called ‘super height’ tall mini-wagon in Japan during early 2014. The model in question, the eK Space, went on sale in February 2014.  The manufacturers agreed in 2011 to co-develop all future Kei-class models as part of a JV called 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. These cars should use an adaptation of the existing NMKV architecture, modified to take the weight of a battery pack.

The eK Wagon and eK Custom were the first models for MMC from the NMKV agreement. The Dayz and Dayz Highway Star are their Nissan equivalents. All are built by MMC at its Mizushima factory. Sales, which are restricted to the Japanese market, began in June 2013.

The eK Wagon is 70mm taller and has a wheelbase 90mm longer than its predecessor. All variants are powered by a 660cc three-cylinder engine, though some are also turbocharged. A CVT is standard for all. Facelifted cars went on sale in Japan in October 2015. Next generation models are due out in 2018.

Even though MMC is part of NMKV, it 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. The Town Box and Minicab are all but identical (the grilles differ), 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.

In March 2017, the Renault Nissan Alliance issued a media statement with sales numbers for group brand LCVs. According to this press release, Mitsubishi Motors sold 248,000 LCVs globally. The top-selling model in 2016 was the Triton/L200 with 125,000 units.

A facelifted model will probably go on sale during the first half of 2018 and there should be a second update in late 2020 or early 2021. The next L200/Triton is due for launch in 2023. It will use an evolution of the Nissan Navara NP300/Frontier’s platform.

MPVs

The Delica D:2 is a small minivan. It is sold mainly in Japan and supplied to Mitsubishi Motors by Suzuki Motor. It is a version of the latter’s Solio Hybrid. There should a facelift in early 2018. Any replacement would be due towards the end of 2019 but MMC may decide to simply discontinue this model.

The Colt Plus is an elderly small five-door minivan that is now sold mostly in Taiwan, Japanese production having ended long ago. It went on sale in Japan, its first market, in October 2004. All versions were powered by a 1.5-litre petrol engine, with the exception of the Ralliart Colt Plus which used a turbocharged 1.5-litre unit. There was a major facelift in late 2013. No direct replacement for this model is expected in the Taiwanese market. Production should cease in 2018.

The Adventure is yet another long-in-the-tooth minivan, although this one is marketed as a crossover. It is built in The Philippines and sold mainly there. Originally launched in Japan during 1997 as the Freeca (a late 1990s minivan/SUV crossover), it was also manufactured in Taiwan by China Motor until late 2007. In addition to the Adventure, Mitsubishi assembled the L300 van/minivan and Lancer sedan in the Philippines at a small plant near Manila. The company’s HQ and an assembly plant switched locations in January 2015 from Cainta in Rizal (near Manila) to the Mitsubishi Motors Philippines Corporation (MMPC) plant at Santa Rosa in Laguna.

Mitsubishi Motors announced in March 2014 that it would purchase a vehicle production plant which Ford had closed in late 2012. This is its second production site in The Philippines and separate from the existing Cainta facility. The Philippines is a smaller car market than Thailand or Indonesia, but the country is important to Mitsubishi Motors as it is the number two brand there behind Toyota.

Adventure production is likely to cease in 2018 but just what MMC is planning to replace it with is a mystery. Either the Xpander or a model based on this MPV-crossover would appear to make the most sense.

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 Xpander, like the Eclipse Cross, went into production last month after a world debut at the Jakarta motor show in August. Exports will commence from early 2018.

According to a 17 September 2014 just-auto.com report, Mitsubishi Motors would begin building what was then an unnamed minivan in 2017. The group’s chief executive, Osamu Masuko, in Japan said construction of a US$600m factory would begin in May 2015 in Jakarta’s satellite city Bekasi. The plant, which opened in April 2017, brought the carmaker’s overall Indonesian production capacity to 240,000 units per year.

This 4,475mm long purpose-designed vehicle will also be exported to neighbouring ASEAN markets, including The Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam from February. The Xpander’s styling 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 Bekasi plant is a major piece in the puzzle of Mitsubishi’s future strategy in the Indonesian market: the firm has broken away from Suzuki, with which it had for decades collaborated. As far back as 1991, the two companies developed the Colt T120SS pick-up truck for lower income markets. For many years and several decades after this, Mitsubishi Motors bought key components from Suzuki. The micro-truck was assembled by an Indonesian contractor at the rate of 30,000 units a year but MMC ended the arrangement in 2016. Renault-Nissan becoming MMC’s largest shareholder obviously means increasing co-operation between all three companies in the future.

There may also be a Nissan version of the Mitsubishi compact MPV.

The Delica D:5, 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 D:5 ditched the rear- and all-wheel van platform of the fourth generation Delica and instead introduced the updated architecture that underpins the seventh generation Lancer. The Delica went on sale in Japan in January 2007.

The Delica D:6 is expected to go on sale in Japan during the final quarter of 2018. The new model is said to be closely related to the Xpander.

Cars

The 3,710mm long Mirage 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 the car for all markets. The company stated at the Tokyo show that Thailand would be the Mirage’s first market, with cars going on sale there in April 2012. At the Los Angeles auto show in December 2009, MMC management said that the replacement for the Colt would be sold in the USA “from 2012”.

The Mirage is powered in base form by a 1.0-litre three-cylinder unit, with a CVT – Jatco CVT7 (JF015E) unit – the standard transmission, for the Thai market at least. This also applies in Japan, where the Thai-built car went on sale in August 2012. Launches in European markets and Australia followed.

The US importer revealed the local-spec model at the New York auto show in March 2013: it is also powered by a standard 1.2-litre engine. The Mirage went on sale in the US and Canada in September 2013 for those markets’ 2014 model year. Mitsubishi added extra materials to the instrument panel and the floor panels to reduce noise, vibration and harshness, plus there are larger bumpers.

The car’s main rival in the US and Canada is the Chevrolet Spark, which has only four seats compared to the five in the Mirage. That despite the Mirage being four inches shorter than the Spark. The original sales target for the US market was 7,000 cars/annum. The Mexican importer added the Mirage for its 2015 model year.

In October 2012, MMC stated that it would expand its three Thai plants. The newest of the three, which builds the Mirage, saw its annual capacity rise to 200,000 units from 150,000.

The car went on sale in several LHD European markets from early 2013, badged as the Mitsubishi Space Star. In the UK, it is the Mirage. It went on sale there in May 2013. European market models have the 1.0- and 1.2-litre engines.

There was a minor facelift for the Mirage in the Thai market in May 2015 (new front bumper, indicators in the door mirrors). This was followed just six months later by a more extensive facelift, the restyled Mirage premiering at November 2015’s LA auto show. North America’s car also gained four horsepower and now produces 78hp. The more powerful, restyled Mirage was new for North America’s 2017 model year. Another styling refresh appeared at the Jakarta motor show in August 2016.

MMPC (Mitsubishi Motors Philippines Corporation) added assembly of the Mirage G4 at its plant during February 2017. The plant has an annual capacity of 50,000 units. Build of the Mirage was added from May 2017.

There might be an EV version of the next Mirage, which is due in 2019. The architecture should be an update of the current car’s, which is called ‘MMC Global Small’.

The Attrage/Mirage G4 is a four-door version of the Mirage/Space Star. It was announced by Mitsubishi Motors in May 2013 and went on sale in Thailand two months later.

The Attrage was previewed by the G4 concept which had its global debut at the Bangkok motor show in March 2013. Mitsubishi Motors Canada revealed its 2014 Mirage G4 at January 2014’s Montreal auto show. The car went on sale there some months later. It was carried over for the 2015 and 2016 model years. The 2017 model year car had a facelift, this car having premiered at the Toronto auto show in February 2016.

In June 2014, MMC said a report by Japan’s Nikkei, which claimed the Attrage would be sold in certain markets as a Chrysler, was “speculation”. This was then confirmed by MMC a week later – the car would be sold by Chrysler de Mexico from November 2014 for a period of five years. The car sold in Mexico is the Dodge Attitude and it was new for the 2015 model year.

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

MMPC (Mitsubishi Motors Philippines Corporation) added assembly of the Mirage G4 at its plant during February 2017. The plant has an annual capacity of 50,000 units. The next Attrage should be on sale from mid-2019.

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 Lancer might be approaching its eleventh birthday yet it is still amazingly popular in many countries. The seventh generation model remains a four-door sedan and five-door hatchback range. It competes globally with the Toyota Corolla and Mazda3, among others.

The current model premiered in four-door form (including a lightly disguised Evolution X derivative) at the Detroit show in January 2007 and the US was its first market. A five-door hatchback concept followed at the Geneva show in March 2008 in concept form (‘Mitsubishi Prototype-S’).

A production version of the Evolution X sedan debuted at the Tokyo show in October 2007 and went on sale in Japan a month later. The Concept X from October 2005’s Tokyo show had previewed the styling.

The Lancer sedan went on sale in the USA and Russia, its first two markets, in April 2007. The Lancer sedan for Japan went on sale there in November 2007, badged as the Galant Fortis, with the ‘Galant Fortis Sportback’ (hatchback) following in December 2008. The reason the Lancer was sold in Japan as the Galant Fortis and in Taiwan as the Lancer Fortis was that the sixth generation Lancer sedan was available there for a time as a cheaper model.

The Lancer for Western Europe debuted as a sedan at the Frankfurt show in September 2007 and as a five-door Sportback at the Paris show in October 2008.

Sedan assembly in China (‘Lancer EX‘ or ‘Lanse Yishen‘) by Mitsubishi’s partner, Southeast (also known as SouEast), started at its Fujian plant in September 2009, with the five-door bodystyle following in late 2010. Thailand’s Lancer EX is made in Laem Chabang Factory #1 alongside the Pajero Sport.

A facelifted car, the SouEast-built Lancer Fortis, premiered at China’s Chengdu motor show in August 2013.

The replacement model would be a collaboration with Nissan Motor and Renault Samsung Motors, Mitsubishi announced in November 2013. However, these plans changed and that project was abandoned. Instead, MMC has given the seventh generation model a new body and will call it ‘Grand Lancer’.

MMC issued a statement in March 2014 concerning the future of the Lancer Evolution X: “Mitsubishi Motors does not have any plans to design a successor with the current concept, as a high-performance four-wheel drive gasoline-powered sedan,” spokeswoman Namie Koketsu was quoted as saying. “Mitsubishi Motors will explore the possibilities of high-performance models that incorporate electric vehicle technology.”

The US importer told the media in January 2017 that it would drop the Lancer in August.

Lancer build in China ceased during 2016 due to low sales. Production continues in Japan but will end in December.

The Grand Lancer is due to be sold in certain Asian markets such as Taiwan and China from late 2017. It will be a heavily modified version of the outgoing model. Mitsubishi seems unlikely to sell this aged sedan for too many years. Instead, the Grand Lancer is likely to be replaced by a truly new model based upon the Renault-Nissan Alliance’s CMF-C/D architecture, probably as soon as 2020 or 2021.

In December 2010, Nissan Motor and MMC revealed that they had signed a new co-operation agreement. As part of the deal, Nissan would supply ‘upper end vehicles’ for MMC’s Japanese market dealers. In September 2011, the companies announced that the Nissan Fuga (sold in many markets as the Infiniti Q70, formerly the Infiniti M sedan) would be the model in question.

In July 2012, Mitsubishi Motors launched not one, but two new Nissan/Infiniti-based sedans, the Proudia and Dignity. These model names had previously been used for MMC luxury sedans in the 1990s.

The Mitsubishi Proudia is based on the standard wheelbase Infiniti Q70. There are 2.5 and 3.7-litre petrol engines. The model name is an amalgam of ‘proud’ and the ‘dia’ from the (three) diamonds in the Mitsubishi logo, the company says.

The Mitsubishi Dignity, meanwhile, uses the long wheelbase bodystyle of the Infiniti Q70 Hybrid L (the former M35 Hybrid L) and the same petrol-electric hybrid powertrain.

The Dignity is twice the price of the base Proudia. MMC said at launch that it expected to sell a combined 700 units of the cars annually.

The next Proudia and Dignity should appear in 2018, following the arrival of the next Infiniti Q70.

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 is a rival for the Peugeot 2008, Ford EcoSport, Opel/Vauxhall Mokka, Kia Sportage, Renault Captur and others.

Cars for the US and Canada reached dealers in November 2010, the ‘2011 Outlander Sport’ having premiered at the New York auto show seven months previously. A 2.0-litre four-cylinder gasoline engine was the standard engine in North America until February 2015, at which time a 168hp 2.4-litre four-cylinder was added. The Mexican importer announced the ‘2014 ASX’ in May 2013.

In April 2010, Mitsubishi and PSA revealed that the Citroen and Peugeot brands would launch variants of the ASX in Europe during 2012. MMC was contracted to supply a combined 50,000 vehicles a year for PSA. The model names (Peugeot 4008 and Citroen C4 Aircross) as well as initial specifications were revealed to the media in September 2011. Both debuted at the Geneva motor show in March 2012 and went on sale shortly afterwards.

Mitsubishi Motors North America began building the Outlander Sport at its US plant (Normal, Illinois) in July 2012. As well as supplying the US market, Normal exported the model to Russia, the Middle East and Latin America. Up to 50,000 vehicles were to be built in the first year of production, rising to 70,000 in a second phase. Normal had a capacity of 240,000 vehicles per annum.

Once production of the Galant ended in late 2012, the Outlander Sport became the only model built at Normal. MMNA had been struggling with exports of the vehicle due to roughly half of the 70,000 units originally planned for sale outside the US being envisaged for buyers in Russia. The steep downturn in the Russian car market saw those plans unravel.

Mitsubishi Motors announced the end of production at Normal in July 2015. The last cars were built in November 2015. Vehicles for North America have since then been imported from Okazaki in Japan. Normal remained open until May 2016, building parts.

In January 2012, MMC stated that its Indonesian partner, PT Krama Yudha Ratu Motor Factory, would commence Outlander Sport assembly during fiscal 2012/2013.

A facelifted Outlander Sport premiered at the New York auto show in April 2012. This was also North America’s 2013 model year car and the one that was built in Illinois. The facelifted ASX followed at the Paris motor show in September 2012, with Japan’s updated RVR going on sale there in October 2012.

In May 2012, a just-auto.com news report stated that Mitsubishi Motors’ Brazilian partner, Souza Ramos Group, would add build of the Mirage, ASX and Lancer at an existing plant at Catalão in the state of Goiás. Assembly commenced in June 2013.

GAC Mitsubishi Motors Co., Ltd. (GMMC), a joint venture between Guangzhou Automobile Company (50%) Mitsubishi Motors (33%) and Mitsubishi Corporation (17%) was formed in October 2012. One of its first products was local production of the ASX at the partners’ Changsha plant from later that same month.

The most recently added production location for the ASX was Malaysia. In September 2013, Mitsubishi Motors told the media that its local partner Tan Chong Motor Assemblies Sdn. Bhd. would assemble the ASX from January 2014. Mitsubishi Motors told just-auto that assembly is CKD and that projected production for Japan’s fiscal 2013-2014 would be 1,000 units (three months to the end of March 2014). Assembly got underway as planned in January 2014.

A second facelift for the Outlander Sport premiered at November 2015’s LA auto show. This was North America’s 2016 model year car. The revised model did not reach European markets until the fourth quarter of 2016. The Outlander Sport was carried over for the US and Canada’s 2017 model years, and also for Mexico’s 2017 model year (Mitsubishi ASX in that country). There is a minor facelift for these three markets’ 2018 model years. The updated Outlander Sport had its public debut at the New York auto show in April 2017.

Also in April 2017, MMC made an announcement concerning the shuffling of production of certain models. As part of the changes, build of the RVR will shift from Okazaki to Mizushima from December.

The 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 might be a plug-in (EV) variant.

The next model, which is due in late 2019, will be smaller than the current car so as to make a clear gap between it and the Eclipse Cross. Its architecture should be CMF-B.

The new Eclipse Cross was previewed by the eX, a plug-in crossover concept which was first seen at October 2015’s Tokyo motor show. With measurements of 4,405 x 1,805 x 1,685mm (L x W x H, mm), it 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 October. 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.

The styling was clearly influenced by both the PX-MiEV concept from October 2009’s Tokyo motor show and the follow up model, the PX-MiEV II concept, which debuted at the Tokyo show in November 2011.

In Europe, the Outlander was launched with the choice of a 2.0-litre petrol engine or a 2.2-litre turbo diesel. In Russia, which is one of the model’s largest markets, the diesel is not offered; instead there is a 2.4-litre four-cylinder petrol. All three engines are MMC units. Russia was the new vehicle’s first market (July 2012), followed by Europe, Japan (October 2012), Oceania, China and North America. MMC began building the Outlander at its PCMA-Rus joint venture plant in Russia in November 2012.

A major restyle for the Outlander had its world premiere at the New York auto show in April 2015. Japan was the first market for this updated range.

A Chinese manufacturing joint venture, GAC Mitsubishi Motors (GMMC), began making the Outlander in August 2016. This was the JV’s third model, with the Outlander joining local build of the ASX and Pajero Sport. Combined annual capacity at the Changsha plant is 130,000 vehicles.

Mitsubishi Motors Malaysia (MMM) began local assembly of the Outlander in September. This takes place at the Tan Chong Motor Assemblies (TCMA) plant in Segambut (Kuala Lumpur).

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 (Montero Sport in Mexico; Nativa in Latin America; Pajero Dakar in Brazil) 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.

The ladder-frame chassis Pajero Sport is made at Laem Chabang in Factory #1 and Factory #2.

This model is also one of the vehicles made at MMC’s newest Indonesian plant. This was announced in March 2015. Mitsubishi Motors Corporation (MMC) and Mitsubishi Corporation (MC) created a new joint manufacturing company, Mitsubishi Motors Krama Yudha Indonesia (MMKI), with local partner Krama Yudha (KY) to construct a vehicle assembly plant at GIIC Industrial Estate located 37km east of Jakarta.

The plant, with a production capacity of 160,000 units per year, commenced operations in April 2017. In addition to  the Pajero Sport, the facility builds the Colt L300 light commercial and the Xpander MPV. A portion of those vehicles is exported to other ASEAN countries, and the plant is expected to play a very important role as the second largest production site for MMC vehicles in the ASEAN region, after the Laem Chabang Plant in Thailand.

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 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, is adding 440 workers and will switch to two shifts from January. Also in Q1, the UK importer will begin selling the ‘Shogun Sport‘.

MMC’s largest SUV is the Pajero and this model is now more than 18 years old, 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 Japan, China (Pah-HAIR-oh) and Australia (p’JEERoh).

The model for India is assembled by Mitsubishi’s local partner, Hindustan Motors.

The Mitsubishi importers for Australia and the UK were the first to announce a minor facelift, in October 2011. Another slight restyle was announced in Japan in July 2014, with the car’s motor show debuts being in Moscow and Chengdu the following month.

A further facelift premiered at the Chengdu motor show in August. The most visible change was the adoption of PAJERO on the edge of the bonnet.

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.

The production model is not expected until late 2020. A Pajero 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. The new model might share its architecture with the replacements for the Nissan Patrol and Infiniti QX80.

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

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 AvtoVAZ and its Lada brand.