Mitsubishi will stop shipments to Europe of key models including the Outlander plug-in hybrid SUV as early as September, a move that will badly hurt the automaker’s dealers in the region, a source told Automotive News Europe.
Mitsubishi announced last month it would wind down operations in Europe but didn’t give a time frame, saying only that it was “freezing the introduction of new products.”
Along with the Outlander, the company will stop shipping the ASX small SUV and Eclipse Cross compact SUV to Europe next month, said the source, who has close ties to the company, on the condition of anonymity.
Imports of the Space Star/Mirage small car, the brand’s best-seller in Europe, and L200 pickup are expected to continue until the end of 2021, the source said.
"Without the SUVs there is no business," the source added. "Dealers can’t survive on the small car and L200."
Mitsubishi Europe has not responded to request for comment.
Halting imports of the key models saves Mitsubishi from having to re-engineer them to comply with new emissions regulations, the source said.
The three SUVs accounted for 64 percent of Mitsubishi’s 53,242 passenger car sales in the first six months of this year, figures from JATO Dynamics show.
French Mitsubishi dealers expressed surprise and anger at the automaker's decision to halt new products for Europe, especially with the Outlander plug-in hybrid benefiting from a government subsidy for low-emissions vehicles, the French automotive news site JournalAuto.com reported.
"It's absurd," said David Gaist, director of the GCA dealership group, which is building a new Mitsubishi showroom in the city of Nantes. "We did not think that the brand was going to leave Europe. But staying with two aging products and no future product plan is clearly impossible."
Mitsubishi had planned to begin European sales of a new Outlander later this year using a platform from its alliance with Renault and Nissan.
This year the automaker had also planned to launch a plug-in hybrid version of the Eclipse Cross, a key model for dealers who have struggled to sell the SUV since its 2017 debut because it’s only offered with a thirsty gasoline engine.