But the even better news for the brand is that their UK have grown this year by 74% for passenger cars and commercial vehicles by 23% according to the official Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders.
This huge increase comes about as the brand, in common with others, recovers from the global recession and in Mitsubishi’s case further problems caused by the Japanese Tsunami and less than successful joint ventures with Daimler-Chrysler, Volvo and PSA Peugeot-Citroen. The situation was made worse by a lack of new models being introduced and the poor rate of exchange for the British Pound against the Japanese Yen. This drastically reduced UK profit margins which in turn restricted their Marketing and PR programmes so public awareness was more or less lost.
With the multi-award winning Outlander PHEV plug-in hybrid going on sale and the big exchange rate improvement has meant prices of other models such as the iconic Shogun 4x4s, the mid range ASX Crossovers and the cheap to buy and run Mirage supermini, plus the continued high demand for their L200 Pick-Up range, has turned the brand’s fortunes around.
Up until the end of November this year Mitsubishi has sold 20,813 new vehicles in the UK against the 13,724 sold in the same period last year. But this is still far short of the near 40,000 units they were selling a year in the UK in the early 2,000s when they had a much larger range of models including the Lancer C-segment models, Ralliart Lancer Evolutions, Space Wagon and Space Star MPVs and the larger D-segment Galant saloons and estates.
At Mitsubishi Motors annual end of year press conference Toby Marshall their Director of sales and Marketing said “Improving brand awareness is now our focus and drive. With the improvement in the exchange rate and our profitability we have tripled our marketing spend which has had a dramatic impact on the awareness of the brand which in turn has brought about more new vehicle sales.”
“We are now back on TV with Chanel Four sponsorship, we are running TV advertising for the ASX range and the Outlander PHEV plug-in hybrid SUV plus we have significantly increased our press, website and street poster advertising.”
He added “Sales of the ASX Crossovers priced from £14,995 have increased by 60% this year, the Outlander diesel model sales are up by 12%, Shogun sales are up 69% and sales of the L200 Pick-Up have increased by 23%. But the big news this year was the launch in June of the Outlander PHEV, the World’s first plug-in hybrid SUV which officially offers 148mpg with CO2 emissions of just 49g/km. This means VED road tax is nil cost, it is exempt from the London Congestion Charge and company car drivers pay on 5% Benefit-in-Kind tax. Since its introduction in June until the end of November, in just six months we have sold 4,655 units making it our most popular passenger vehicle with only the L200 Pick-Up selling more with 5,959 registrations.
“We have been inundated with enquiries about the Outlander PHEV and it has brought 75% of new customers to the brand. So far between 55 and 60% of UK buyers of the Outlander PHEV are fleet or business user-choosers who can save up to £13,000 in Benefit-in-Kind tax over three years by having this vehicle as their company car.”
He said, “The Outlander PHEV is already the best-selling plug-in car in the UK with a market share of 58% in its sector. Another bonus is that sales of diesel Outlander models are benefiting from the image of the PHEV version. After the Government’s £5,000 plug-in grant the £28,249 Outlander PHEV sells at the same price as the diesel powered models.”
With this new surge in public demand Mitsubishi Motors is increasing its UK dealer network which currently has 120 outlets. The brand continues to sponsor the world famous Badminton Horse Trials and its sponsorship of Gloucester and Edinburgh RFCs. Miles Better News Agency