Mitsubishi's Latest Problem Has No Easy Solution

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A major market sacrifice might happen.

It's been a complicated time for the Renault Nissan Mitsubishi alliance as it not only works out its own internal struggles but also those caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Last week, Renault and Nissan laid out plans designed to preserve the alliance as the automakers move to a so-called "leader-follower" formula, where one develops a certain type of vehicle while the other also benefits and vice versa. Nissan also revealed its own revitalization plans in an official presentation that also previewed the next-generation Z car. But what about the third and smallest alliance member, Mitsubishi? What does its future hold?

Speaking to Automotive News Europe, it appears the Japanese automaker still lacks a concrete long-term plan. However, one thing is already clear: its future in Europe is uncertain. A company spokesperson said that its mid-term European plans will be announced "in a few weeks."

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Mitsubishi currently has a 1.1 percent market share of passenger car sales in Europe in the first four months of this year, but its most profitable global region is southeast Asia where it will head up the alliance's "leader-follower" strategy. Mitsubishi will also take charge of the alliance's future plug-in hybrid technology development, which makes perfect sense. The Mitsubishi Outlander midsize SUV has been Europe's best-selling PHEV. Plans have already been set for a redesigned Outlander to go on sale in Europe later this year.

Despite the Outlander's success, the only other popular vehicle Mitsubishi sells in Europe is the Mirage subcompact hatchback. However, its design and engine technology date back to 2012 and future fuel emissions regulations threaten its existence.

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2019-2020 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV Front View Driving Mitsubishi
2019-2020 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV Side View Mitsubishi
2019-2020 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV Charge Port Mitsubishi
2019-2020 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV Dashboard Mitsubishi

Another problem with the Mitsubishi Mirage is that it doesn't offer an electrified powertrain. Of course, Mitsubishi could opt to redesign the Mirage as a PHEV, but this could cause internal competition with Renault. Nissan, meanwhile, plans to focus on small SUVs for its future European lineup. In other words, Mitsubishi simply may not be needed in Europe because Renault and Nissan have those segments firmly covered.

On top of this, Mitsubishi also lost money (a total of $130 million) in Europe for the past two years.

2017-2020 Mitsubishi Mirage Front Angle View Mitsubishi
2017-2020 Mitsubishi Mirage Rear Angle View Mitsubishi
2016-2019 Nissan Rogue Hybrid Front Angle View Nissan
2016-2019 Nissan Rogue Hybrid Rear Angle View Nissan
2016-2019 Nissan Rogue Hybrid Dashboard Nissan
Source Credits: Automotive News Europe

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