Mitsubishi Motors Europe (MME) boosted calendar year 2006 sales 5%, to 277,815 units.

This was the fourth consecutive year of growth for MME and was achieved in a flat European market that grew only  0.7%.

MME said the 2006 tally was in line with its objectives and “natural weight” in the European market which averages around 250,000 sales a year for the brand.

Russia was again the Japanese automaker’s top market though growth fell to 25% after several years of much higher growth to 68,919 units. The current model Lancer remained top-selling built-up import in Russia with 46,969 units sold.

Italian sales rose 15% to 18,457 units. German sales of the Colt were up 7.6% to 23,120 units but sales overall fell 12% to 37,905 units.

In a United Kingdom off 3.9% overall, MME sales fell 9% to 35,579 units with the automaker citing the run-out of the current model Pajero/Shogun, Pajero/Shogun Sport and Outlander models as well as the end of sales of the Pajero Pinin only partially offset by an 11.7% increase in Colt volume.

Ukraine sales rose 97% to 14,123 units.

Sales of 6,276 units (-38%) in France were described as “disappointing but masked the critical need to restore distribution operations to financial sustainability in this strategically important market – now achieved”.

MME added that the process of developing a stronger dealer network is now under way and a good start of sales for the new L200 from its 3 launch “acts as a positive indication of the opportunity for a more robust representation in France”.

The Colt was once again MME’s best-seller with sales up 12.7% to 81,504 sales.

MME president and CEO Tim Tozer said: “After this year of managed transition, 2007 will see us consolidate our European business further.

“The European launch of the first cars built upon our ‘Project Global’ platform (Outlander and Lancer sports sedan) will be major ‘step forward’ events for us, allowing the better balancing of our sales within the region, creating the conditions for long term profitable growth and distribution development in markets like France, Belgium, Switzerland and Austria.”

He added: “We expect continued momentum to allow us to close our FY2006 at the end of March 2007 strongly – both in terms of sales volume (vs. our increased target of 280,000 units) and profit. Through this, from the global MMC perspective, MME’s performance will positively contribute to Mitsubishi Motors Corporation results for the fifth year in a row.”