TOKYO -- Mitsubishi Motors Corp., which is pinning its revival hopes on emerging markets, plans to introduce a global small car in China and possibly manufacture it there.
The yet-to-be-named small car will have a 1.0- to 1.2-liter engine and go into production by the end of 2011, Mitsubishi President Osamu Masuko said in an interview this month.
Mitsubishi is targeting a sticker price of 1 million yen (about $11,300 at current exchange rates) to exploit surging demand for cars in markets such as China, India and Brazil. The Japanese automaker is targeting global volume of 400,000 to 500,000 units a year.
Mitsubishi will build an assembly plant in Thailand to manufacture the car. But, Masuko says, an additional plant in China, India or Brazil probably will be needed. "It is clear that production of 200,000 in Thailand is not enough," Masuko said. "But the second plant has not yet been determined."
The focus on emerging markets underlines changing realities at Mitsubishi. Long oriented toward SUVs and large sedans, the company now wants to focus on smaller, fuel-efficient cars.
The upcoming small car is expected to be smaller than the Mitsubishi Colt, which is sold in Japan, Europe and other markets. North Asia, which excludes Japan, is Mitsubishi's single-biggest market. It accounted for 19 percent of the company's global sales of 960,000 units last year.