Currently reading: Updated: Mitsubishi freezes introduction of new models for Europe
Firm shifts focus to more profitable South-East Asia, suggesting gradual withdrawal from Europe

Mitsubishi has halted new model launches in Europe as part of an overhaul of its global operations to cut costs, which is expected to mark the beginning of the brand's withdrawal from the European market.

Under the 'Small but Beautiful' banner, the Japanese manufacturer plans to reduce its fixed costs by 20% over the next two years. It will shift to a business structure centred on Asia and "improve operating profit by downsizing low-profit businesses”. 

The firm will focus its resources on the South-East Asian market, where it currently has a 6.4% market share, compared with just 1.0% in Europe and 0.9% in North America. Its operating profit in the region last year was 63.6 billion yen (£469.6 million), compared to just 12.8bn yen (£94.5m) across all other global markets.

A planned “freezing of the introduction of new products in Europe” means upcoming models such as the next-generation Mitsubishi L200 pick-up truck, Outlander SUV and Mirage supermini are unlikely to be sold here. 

Car Dealer Magazine reports that Mitsubishi UK boss Rob Lindley was surprised to hear the news, but that the Colt Car Company - sole distributor of the brand’s models in the country - will now "accelerate" talks it was already having with other manufacturers. 

"We did not expect [Mitsubishi] to cease development of models for Europe completely and that was a shock," Lindley told Car Dealer, "but we were talking to other brands that are not yet represented here in the UK yet."

It is not yet known which brands are in line to fill the gap left by Mitsubishi's departure, but Lindley hinted that "if a brand is importing cars to Australia then they are a good fit for the UK as they are right-hand drive and crash tested to similar standards". It is suggested he is referring to top-selling Chinese brand Haval, which announced plans for a global rollout in 2017. 

A Mitsubishi UK spokesman was unable to say for how long the European new model freeze will last but said that the situation is “evolving and changing rapidly”.

Mitsubishi plans to achieve “sustainable growth” from the end of 2022 by consolidating investment into core regions and products. Changes in its home market include shifting production of its Pajero SUV from Sakahogi to Okazaki, closing unproductive dealerships and promoting its sharing and subscription business. 

The spokesman told Autocar that it's too early to say what the plans mean for Mitsubishi's 114 UK dealerships but that they're “still selling cars for the foreseeable future” and plan to continue to support customers with an ongoing aftersales parts and servicing offering. 

However, the new model freeze means current models will not be replaced when they become non-compliant with EU emissions regulations, suggesting Mitsubishi will gradually withdraw from the European market. 

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Takao Kato, representative executive officer and CEO of the Mitsubishi Motors Corporation, said: “We will shift our strategy from all-round expansion to selection and concentration. First of all, we will complete our structural reforms and further strengthen our competitive areas – ultimately to build a corporate structure that can surely generate profits during this mid-term period." Further details on what this means for the struggling Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance are unclear, but Mitsubishi has confirmed plans to continue introducing “cutting-edge models leveraging the Alliance partners’ technologies”. As part of its future models preview, the firm listed an electric kei car that it's co-developing with Nissan for launch after 2022. 

Recently announced plans for the three Alliance brands to increase their sharing of technology and production are estimated to cut model development costs by up to 40%. As part of the revised structure, Renault has been named the lead brand in Europe, with Nissan taking the lead in Japan, North America and China and Mitsubishi the focus for South-East Asia and Oceania. 

Nissan will continue to sell a limited number of successful models in Europe, but such a move would be less beneficial for Mitsubishi, given its smaller size. 

Read more

Renault, Nissan and Mitsubishi to increase technology sharing​

Mitsubishi plans new SUV strategy​

Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV review

Felix Page

Felix Page
Title: Deputy editor

Felix is Autocar's deputy editor, responsible for leading the brand's agenda-shaping coverage across all facets of the global automotive industry - both in print and online.

He has interviewed the most powerful and widely respected people in motoring, covered the reveals and launches of today's most important cars, and broken some of the biggest automotive stories of the last few years. 

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Harry P 28 July 2020

Limited range and poor styling

Mitsubishi were too reliant on selling just two models in the UK. The L200 Pick-up and the Outlander Phev. Their other products were just too weak. When was the last time you saw a new Mitsubishi car on a UK Road? Poor styling was an issue, which the latest Outlander PHev only overcame by providing a tax efficient and VFM product at an opportune time. Even then, high levels of discounts were required in order for them to sell. The lack of a replacement for the ageing Shogun further hindered matters. I am sure SsangYong will see this as a great opportunity for them to increase sales in the UK.

jonboy4969 28 July 2020


STUPID Decision - They have one of the biggest selling EV's in the world, they shift loads here, and in Europe, they also shift thousands of the Pick Up, as it is one of the best on the market, they have some other good products and lots of new stuff on the way, to pull out of Europe because they dropped a ball bag in the first Q of 2020 stupid, everyone dropped their draws and showed the bottom line to everyone and will do for the rest of the financial year.They say the want to conccentrate of Asia, yet they had the biggest drop in the companies global sales area's Europe dropped but by nowhere near as much as most other brands, there has got to be more to this than just the financial side of things, we have lost so many brands over the years, Daihatsu, Perodua, not a great loss that one, SAAB, Rover, now Mitsubishi, Suzuki is about to rip up its European Passport, they have removed a number of its cars already, Jimny, Ignis and Celariac (yes i know), so, who will be next......

xxxx 28 July 2020


jonboy4969 wrote:

...Suzuki is about to rip up its European Passport, they have removed a number of its cars already, Jimny, Ignis and Celariac (yes i know), so, who will be next......

Didn't know that one had gone, one of my favourites. Are you sure

stokiesuzuki78 28 July 2020

Suzuki GB sales

Jimny apart, Suzuki have withdrawn less popular and less profitable models such as the Celerio and Baleno to be more streamlined and profitable. The Ignis is having a minor update, but is definitely staying in the UK. The whole range is now mild hybrid, and the Vitara and Swift are selling reasonably well.  

Car2z 28 July 2020

Mitsubishi declining sales

Mitsubishi has been declining not only in Europe but also in the US market. Although it has promising features and the older versions live up to its expectations, their sales for Pajero isn't increasing. For a few times that they have released the Pajero, it kind of failed in the western market. On the other hand, the Asian market reflects better sales for this vehicle. I've been to a few countries in Asia and saw Pajero on the streets. Put on some good wheels and tires from 4wheelonline and it will be a great vehicle for daily driving. I think it's better they focused on the Southeast Asian market so their efforts wouldn't be wasted.