Mitsubishi has written to its UK dealers and informed them of its plans to withdraw from the UK and European markets.
According to reports in Automotive Management, Mitsubishi plans to retain as much of the 103-strong dealer network as possible, continuing to sell new vehicles until such time that they no longer meet European regulations. As many retailers as possible would then be retained as a parts and aftersales network.
No new models will be introduced, which means the next-generation Outlander PHEV has been killed off. However, the L200 has recently had a significant upgrade and should, therefore, survive for some time, alongside the Shogun Sport.
A spokesperson for Mitsubishi Motors in the UK told Professional Pickup and 4×4: “The Colt Car Company has just learned that Mitsubishi Motors Corporation has frozen the development and introduction of new models for Europe, including the UK. We will continue to sell the existing range of Mitsubishi vehicles and to provide full customer support in terms of service, repair, warranty, recalls, parts and accessories. We will provide updates when we know more.”
Hit hard by the downturn created by the coronavirus, Mitsubishi is taking the action to shore up its finances, exiting Europe to concentrate on its Asian business. Mitsubishi reported a first-quarter operating loss this year of 53.3 billion yen (£408m) after sales halved to 127,000 units. The firm expects a total loss for the year of 220bn yen (£1.623bn) and announced that it needs to reduce fixed costs by 20%. To save immediate cash, it will not pay a shareholders dividend.
The Cirencester-based Colt Car Company, which has imported Mitsubishi vehicles into the UK since 1974, told Automotive Management that the decision to withdraw would accelerate its plan to bring other emerging brands into the UK.
“In terms of the future for The Colt Car Group of Companies, we have already been looking at opportunities to bring additional new vehicle brands into the UK as a distributor and have already been in early dialogue with some alternative emerging market brands with an EV product strategy,” says the letter to dealers.
“Whilst the discussions are at an early stage, in light of today’s announcement we are focused on accelerating these opportunities with the goal of introducing additional brands to our business as quickly as possible.”
The CCC letter also stated that the importers “did not, at any point, anticipate receiving this news.”
Mitsubishi sales dropped in the UK by more than 23% last year, and are down a further 51.9% this year thanks to the shutdown caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Despite that, Mitsubishi has managed to increase its market share slightly, to 0.77%.