“Our dealers are like supermodels – they don't get out of bed for less than £10,000,” he says. “They are used to handling large 4x4s and small LCVs but they need also to understand the small car market. Some may need to retrain to enable them to refocus.”
Mitsubishi, which is looking to expand the UK network from 140 to 150 by the end of 2003 – despite an overall reduction across Europe by 20 per cent – also believes its dealers need to focus on the used car sector under the Red Zebra brand. Traditionally volumes have been low, but this will change as the range expands.
But there is optimism in the network, which stems from a substantial turnaround in dealer profitability. Mitsubishi dealers will this year record a two per cent return on sales, compared to one per cent in 2001 and a loss in 2000. Sales this year are expected to exceed 26,000 units – 17 per cent up on 2001.
The Mitsubishi name may be put on future models in order to boost brand awareness. Feedback suggests that customers do not associate the three diamonds logo with Mitsubishi.