Mitsubishi is promising 12 all-new vehicles over the next four years as it shoots for a 2% share of the European market, according to Mitsubishi Motors Europe (MME) sales and market management vice president Thomas Weigand.

That means increasing sales from 213,000 (1.2% market share) last year to 300,00 by 2005.

First of those new models is the facelifted Space Star, built by NedCar in Born, Holland, and launched this month.

Although only a facelift, the Space Star shows the fresh new Mitsubishi face, said Weigand. It is the company’s biggest selling European model, accounting for almost 30% of sales (yet a surprisingly rare sight on UK roads in just-auto’s observation).

The Space Star will be joined in 2004 by the Dutch-built NCC (New Compact Car) whose design is said to have been strongly influenced by Mitsubishi’s design centre in Trebur, near Frankfurt, Germany.

A four-door version of DaimlerChrysler’s Smart car will also start rolling off the NedCar lines at the same time that Nedcar ends production of the slow-selling Carisma – a lacklustre car never the success Mitsubishi hoped – and the Volvo S/V40 the plant also builds.

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The two cars shared platforms and engines but Ford’s acquisition of Volvo will see the S/V40 replacement (the S/V50) built elsewhere using shared Ford underpinnings.

Engines for the two new MME models will be supplied from the new MDC (Mitsubishi Daimler Chrysler) engine plant in Germany.

Initially these will be Mitsubishi-designed 1.1 and 1.3 litre petrol engines; diesels will arrive later, Weigand said.

The plant, due to come on stream in late 2003, could build 300,000 engines a year.

Mitsubishi’s rebuilding in Europe will continue with the launch of the Airtrek – a two to 2.4-litre four cylinder crossover 4×4 SUV and estate already on sale in Japan and also destined for the US – next April.

The B-segment NCC will be launched as a five door with a three-door model arriving later.

MME is not making a profit, Weigand said, and the new management team was putting in place a revival plan based on three ‘pillars’ to reverse its fortunes.

The first was to get the right product. This will include the continuing supply of the compact Pajero/Shogun Pinin (the Japanese market Pajero Jr, mildly restyled and respecified, built by Pininfarina in Italy).

“We have a contract with Pininfarina until 2005 and we are looking [continuing] beyond that,” Weigand said.

The second pillar was the reorganisation of MME headquartered in Amsterdam.

“We want to make it more pan-European with Japanese staff in key functions like product planning to give us the right links between design and engineering here and Japan.”

Part of the shake-up will be to make the company more market-oriented. “We must have close links with our markets here,” Weigand said.

The third pillar of the plan was to reorganise distribution.

“Our distribution costs are definitely too high and we want a cut of between 15% and 20% over the next two years.”

This will partly involve switching to a build-to-order system at NedCar. There will also be more sharing of back-office functions within the DaimlerChrysler alliance although dealerships will remain independent.

MME will also switch to a pan-European advertising strategy as it tries to build brand awareness.

Weigand said: “We have a team evaluating the right brand positioning for us and we will decide on that early next year.”

He put Mitsubishi’s current problems down to inconsistencies in the product replacement cycle.

“We must make sure our products are attractive.”

Although the Thai-built L200 is currently Europe’s best-selling pick-up, there were no plans to build it in Europe.