AMSTERDAM - New governments in the UK and France have raised questions about the future of the European Monetary Union and the single currency Euro, but Mitsubishi Motors Europe is confident that it will arrive.
'Even if some people are doubtful about a single European currency, it is my personal belief that it will eventually materialize, headed by France and Germany,' said Katsuhisa Sato, president of Mitsubishi Motors Europe.
Takafumi Ohno, executive vice-president of Mitsubishi Europe, said he believes the single currency would save the European community as much as $50 billion by 2005 because of lower consumer prices and reduced credit cost. For his company, he sees cost reductions in parts, financing and even labor, resulting from a more 'flexible movement of people.'
Mitsubishi Motor Sales Europe was established on 1 April 1993. With the sales arm and a shared factory with Volvo in the Netherlands, Mitsubishi aims at a European market share of 2 percent in 2000, with annual sales of 330,000 units. Sales in 1996 were 230,000 units, up 16.5 percent.
The single currency won't mean a single market, said Sato in an interview at his headquarters near the Amsterdam airport.
'Although a common Europe is much discussed, the reality is that it still consists of different nations,' he said. 'Therefore we would like to evaluate reconstruction of our dealer network country by country. We want to continue a good relationship with our distributors who have local knowledge. In this respect, the concept of a pan-European dealer network has its limits.'
However, he believes traditional dealers will become less important. 'In the year 2000, 25 percent of the auto market will contact and communicate via the Internet. So the auto market as it is today will break down tomorrow,' he said.
Sato said Mitsubishi aims for a worldwide market share of 5 percent, with 15 percent in Japan, 23 percent in Asia/Pacific and 2 percent in Europe and the US. 'This 5 percent will be enough to maintain our position globally,' he said.
The current European market situation has been '...created and protected,' said Sato. After the end of European quotas on Japanese brands in 1999, Japanese sales will rise, he predicted.
'For Japanese brands there is room for 11 or 12 percent, but without restrictions we may grow beyond that figure, if the European market demands. After 1999 we want to play a stable and harmonious role within European society.'