Renault built Mitsubishi models from 2023 will supplement newly launched Eclipse Cross PHEV in select LHD Europe markets

Renault built Mitsubishi models from 2023 will supplement newly launched Eclipse Cross PHEV in select LHD Europe markets

Starting in 2023, Mitsubishi Motors will buy two models from Renault for sale in "selected markets" in Europe. Sadly, though, this does not include RHD markets such as the UK.

This latest step in Alliance cooperation was announced on Wednesday by the French and Japanese automakers.

"Mitsubishi Motors has decided to procure OEM-model vehicles from Renault, best-sellers on the European market which already meet regulatory requirements, for selected major markets in Europe," MMC said in a joint statement.

"Starting 2023, Mitsubishi Motors will thus sell two 'sister models' produced in Renault Group plants, which are based on the same platforms but with differentiations, reflecting the Mitsubishi brand's DNA."

MMC added: "A model mix of the newly launched Eclipse Cross PHEV and the Renault-developed sister models will enable Mitsubishi Motors to be more competitive in the market."

"I am very happy to see Mitsubishi Motors building a new line-up in Europe," said Jean-Dominique Senard, chairman of the Alliance operating board and Renault.

"The Alliance aims to enhance competitiveness and enable more effective resource sharing for the benefit of all three companies. Our approach is collaborative, relying on mutual respect, with a clear intention to boost the performance of each company, allowing individual companies to capitalise on their own strengths, avoid duplication of resources and improve efficiencies."

"Mitsubishi Motors welcomes Renault's OEM models for the European market, and ultimately new customers. We have been implementing structural reforms in Europe and our decision to freeze new car development for the European market, announced in July 2020 in our mid-term business plans, remains. However, the OEM supply agreement will provide us with a solution to offer new products developed and manufactured in Europe alongside our ongoing after sales business," said Takao Kato, CEO Mitsubishi Motors.

"Our new approach within the Alliance, focusing on impactful and meaningful projects, is turning into reality. This pragmatic, value-driven initiative will make a difference in our plants, in our partner's footprint and on the European streets. This beautiful project meets all partners' expectations from a design, regulatory and business perspective. This is what the Alliance is meant for and we are very happy to contribute to this new step in its history of cooperation," said Luca de Meo, CEO Renault Group.

The official announcement confirms media reports in Japan late in February saying Mitsubishi Motors was considering a plan to source a model from its alliance partner Renault to sell in Europe. It was unclear which models and plants were being considered.

Such a deal would also help make better use of the significant overcapacity currently available in Europe among MMC's alliance partners Renault and Nissan, that report said.

Mitsubishi Motors unveiled a restructuring plan last year called 'Small Is Beautiful' which was to result in the company refocusing on its core markets in Japan and south-east Asia while also freezing new product launches and cutting fixed costs by 20% in Europe.

The automaker had struggled to gain a significant foothold in Europe for decades, with its market share at less than 1%. In 2012 it sold its only car plant in Europe, Netherlands Car (aka Nedcar), to local bus maker VDL Groep.

The plant, initially a DAF car plant which later built shared Volvo, Smart and Mitsubishi models, is now a contract assembler for BMW's Mini brand.

Mitsubishi Motors' UK unit confirmed the vehicles Renault would build on an OEM basis would be available only "in selected left-hand drive European markets. They will not be offered for sale in the UK and will not be produced in right-hand drive".

The independent importer added: "Mitsubishi Motors in the UK is progressing with its plans to sell the existing range of vehicles until the autumn at which point it will transition into an aftersales-only business to ensure the 400,000 Mitsubishi vehicles on UK roads continue to receive full support in terms of maintenance, spare parts, accessories, warranty and technical support well into the future.

"Full details of Mitsubishi Motors in the UK's next steps will be announced in due course."

Sadly, it appears the departure from the UK, and other European markets, of a brand with a small, but strong and loyal customer base, supported by a strong and loyal dealer network of mostly independent outlets, is irreversible. And to think MMC for a time all but owned the PHEV SUV segment in UK and Europe.