A-O-Kei: Mitsubishi Targets Emerging Markets

a o kei mitsubishi targets emerging markets

Yet another major manufacturer is jumping into the entry-level segment defined by Tata Motors' Nano subcompact. Reuters reports that Mitsubishi is developing a low-cost car for the Chinese and Thai markets, based on its Kei-class city car platform. Mitsu Prez Osamu Masuko announced the project at the Beijing Auto Show. "The mini vehicle business in a sense is a weakness because they are only sold in Japan," Masuko said. "But we can turn this into a strength by building a global car using the platform." The Japanese government-mandated 660cc engine will be replaced by a one-liter unit for export, with the resulting ride priced at just shy of $10k. With North American sales plummeting, Mitsubishi is joining the industry trend of looking to developing markets for sales, both from entry-level models and as a partner to suppliers of engines for Chinese manufacturers. Mitsubishi's Chinese engine factory partners will be increasing capacity to some 900k units per year, up from 470k, as Chinese demand booms.

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  • L47_V8 L47_V8 on Apr 22, 2008

    Great news, especially for Mitsubishi. They've never been big in the US (sales peak was in the late-90s and early-00s with around 300,000 sales per year). The low point was in 2006, when they were selling less than 10,000 units per month. Anyway, it seems half of the Chinese car market is built on the 4G64 four-cylinder engine, and many Chinese cars use Mitsubishi platforms - not to mention the fact that Malaysian Proton is almost entirely built upon last-gen Mitsubishi engineering (they just developed their own cars in the last 3-4 model years). As stated by several others, small cars are a Mitsubishi specialty (Colt, Minica, and i have exceptional track records), and this is turning a product they have to make for a small niche market into a global moneymaker. Now, if they'd just offer some great small cars in the US and, perhaps, be the first to bring some spectacular diesel engines to our market, they'd be all right.

  • Menno Menno on Apr 22, 2008

    I "still" think that Suzuki and Mitsubishi should tie-up and merge or at least do a product sharing program. Mitsubishi excels at their "i" and upcoming electric version of same; their Lancer; their Evo; the Outlander and at least their big SUV, the Endeavor, is well thought of by Consumer Reports (we car-guys/gals can laugh, but it helps move product). Their upcoming Galant (which will supposedly be based on the ZT show car) looks pretty good in a generic mid-sized way. They are also working on clean diesel (which may be a non-starter in the US but will help them in Europe). Suzuki excels at product that sits between Mitsu's i and Lancer, the (real) Japanese Swift (which will be coming to the US within a year or so), the SX4, plus they have their upcoming Kizashi which, if nothing else, will give them a lot of free publicity with its far-out looks (assuming the production cars are not toned down to totally boring compared to the show-cars). Plus, Suzuki has had reasonable sales with small SUVs. And they have the upcoming Nissan-built Equator pickup-truck. A couple of years ago, I'd have put Suzuki's chances at survival ahead of Mitsubishi's, but now it seems it is Mitsubishi who is the phoenix and Suzuki is beating itself up because it is not selling as well as the top guns wanted it to. Plus, they are going to discontinue the Daewoo built Reno and Forenza (and already got rid of the Daewoo built mid-sized Verona after 2006). I think Suzuki have found that the GM-Daewoo cars are not improving with the times, and that they would rather have more control over product. A full scale merger might work for Suzuki and Mitsubishi, or at least, a sharing of technology and trading of vehicles. For example, replacing the GMDaewoo Suzuki Forenza with a reskinned Lancer, and putting a reskinned Swift into Mitsubishi USA dealerships to quickly get them into the small car market.

  • Menno Menno on Apr 22, 2008

    Not forgetting, 6G74, that Hyundai got its start using Mitsubishi technology, only phasing it out in the late 1990's for their own designs and engineering. And, Hyundai has now moved to #5 or #6 worldwide as an automaker (partly due, I know, to the 1999 Asian financial crisis causing them to buy up 50% of Kia). Interestingly, Kia's previously used Mazda technology.

  • Joeaverage Joeaverage on Apr 22, 2008

    I'll consider Mitsu if they fix whatever makes the engines smoke like steam locomotives when they get old. Valve stem seals?