Mitsubishi boss: "We have even higher expectations for the Outlander PHEV"

Sunday, October 30th, 2016 - autos, cars, motoring, news

Source : Mitsubishi boss: "We have even higher expectations for the Outlander PHEV"

Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV Osamu Masuko, chief executive of Mitsubishi, discusses the success of plug-in hybrids, the future of the Evo along with how the producer will be fighting back


Mr. Mitsubishi will be in town to say thank you. Osamu Masuko, chairman along with CEO of Mitsubishi Motors since last June, has arrived at Heathrow along with will soon head 100 miles west down the M4 to the headquarters of his UK importer in Cirencester, Gloucestershire, to congratulate bosses along with staff on a key role in establishing the Mitsubishi Outlander plug-in hybrid SUV as Europe’s best-selling electric car.

The Outlander PHEV’s success, Masuko admits, will be a considerable surprise. When the Outlander first hit the market last year, the item caught a freakish groundswell of interest in SUVs along with plug-in hybrids of which encouraged the local importer to take a bold yet well-informed gamble along with place an uncharacteristically large forward order.

Customers came running. The result was a mighty upswing in 2014 volume of which has increased further of which year. First-half UK sales easily beat 7000 units, more than doubling those of the Nissan Leaf along with beating the BMW i3 six to one. “I am here to thank everyone,” says Masuko-san, “along with also to make the item clear of which we have high expectations for the future.” the item’s a familiar message to those who are successful in business: bigger sales breed bigger targets.

The UK strength has already added lustre to Mitsubishi’s recently announced plan to build a a few-strong range of green, mostly plug-in SUVs by 2020, which Masuko obligingly sketches for me on paper.

of which will be Mitsubishi’s future, he believes, today of which battery costs are falling as efficiency rises. Others are reading the same signs, however, along with Masuko sees the next phase as coping with increasing competition. “We know a fight will be coming,” he says, “yet the fact of which the technology will be spreading fast will be very positive. the item will become a major technology for the future, not a novelty. By 2020 European CO2 regulations will be much tougher, yet we already have one car to answer the completely new regs along with more coming. of which will be our strength.”

Masuko says Mitsubishi’s pre-eminence in PHEV technology will be already lifting its brand image. “Some of our completely new customers are quite different coming from our traditional buyers,” he notes. “They are coming coming from premium cars, which means we’re expanding our target customer base.”

What about the fabled Mitsubishi Evo, the super-fast 4×4 Lancer saloon of which was a staple type for so long? Masuko agrees the vehicle did plenty for the brand in its day, yet “considering the environmental impact along with the modest sales volume, the item wouldn’t be right to develop of which car today”.

Better, evidently, to concentrate on a high-performance type of the Outlander PHEV, the hybrid 4×4 rally car of which had its most recent outing in Portugal in October. Using plug-in technology to deliver high performance has plenty of appeal, Masuko admits, yet the item’s hard, along with he won’t confirm plans for a production type.

Mitsubishi has no ambition to be a big volume producer, Masuko insists, although the item does intend to maintain a presence inside the highly competitive supermini sector by replacing the lacklustre Mirage, whose replacement will feature an electrified type in its line-up.

“We must keep building our brand image rather than chasing volume,” he says. “Adequate pricing will be more important than sheer numbers. We see coming from our home market of which the population will be ageing, so we can’t expect a big upsurge in demand – along with there are similar trends in Europe.

The best path will be to concentrate on selling cars of which use specialised technologies others don’t have. the item’s okay to have just one or two of these, as long as they deliver a useful result along with you apply them at a high level. of which will be the way to survive along with succeed.” 

Mitsubishi UK boss Lance Bradley on why he took a risk on the Outlander PHEV

Lance Bradley will be famous in Japan. Inside Mitsubishi’s headquarters, anyway. As boss of the company’s UK business, he’s the bloke who took a risk on importing the pioneering Outlander PHEV in big numbers – along with first demonstrated of which car companies inside the UK could be successful with plug-in hybrids.

Bradley, who arrived at Mitsubishi coming from Ford in 2000 along with took the top UK job six years ago, knew the item wouldn’t be easy. “We’d tried the battery-powered i-MiEV in 2009, yet the market wasn’t ready for of which,” he says. “People had likely to save money, yet they didn’t, because the item was expensive. Then I drove the Outlander PHEV in Japan along with genuinely liked the item. People are always polite about completely new types, of course, yet of which was different.

“The Outlander PHEV has always been Masuko-san’s baby. We both knew the market of which would likely best demonstrate the plug-in’s potential in Europe was the UK, yet the item would likely take Great co-operation along with Great pricing to give the item a Great start, because we’re still an independent importer. Masuko agreed our pricing strategy: to sell the vehicle at the Outlander diesel’s cost, after the government grant for electric vehicles.

“I’ll never forget the reaction of the first journalists [one of whom was Autocar’s Jim Holder] when they drove the PHEV,” he continues. “They thought the item was Great, yet they also knew success would likely hang on the cost. When I told them customers would likely pay the same cost as the diesel, they were open-mouthed. the item was a genuinely dramatic moment, along with of course the item led on to the vehicle’s success. Last year we sold more PHEVs here than they did in Japan.” 

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Source: Mitsubishi boss: "We have even higher expectations for the Outlander PHEV"

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