19 March 2004

Mitsubishi is to cut back its European line-up of 4x4s and may pursue a co-operation with Jeep for a light-duty 'soft-roader'.

Mitsubishi's current 4x4 range is centred on heavy-duty 4x4s with body-on-frame construction, like the Shogun, Shogun Sport and Shogun Pinin. Only the Outlander (pictured right) is a car-like 4x4 of the type increasingly favoured by European buyers.

'We have too many SUVs and we need to try to rationalise that,' said Toscan Bennett, product marketing boss of Mitsubishi Europe. 'Strong sales are coming from models like the BMW X5 and Volvo XC90.'

The Shogun Sport (pictured top)- a low-roof variant of the Shogun - is likely to be axed. 'The next generation will have to be more fuel efficient and more car-like to drive,' added Bennett, 'and that's the direction we're going in.'

With Mitsubishi's rescue plan veering off the rails, there is also pressure to form a venture with a fellow DaimlerChrysler company, following the success of the Mitsubishi Colt/Smart ForFour joint development.

Jeep has decided to split its range into two types of vehicle: tough off-roaders that can tackle extreme terrain and a new range of softer, on-road biased vehicles.

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