According to the company’s managing director Jim Tyrell, the reason is easy to spot – the run-out of the hugely popular MkI L200 pick-up – but short supply on the critically acclaimed all-new Outlander hasn’t helped.
Tyrell said: "Outlander has been sold out all year, and we only got half of what we wanted, but the decline is all due to the L200. And it’s sticky hard work selling cars at the moment because of the consumer confidence issue."
The target for 2008 is 35,000 units, driven by a global increase in manufacturing capacity by 100,000 units next year, and also the arrival of the Lancer. The price and spec of the car will be formally announced on December 14. But Tyrell hinted it will be right in the middle of the C-segment, offering better value for money than the Mazda 3.
The four-door saloon will arrive first, followed by the five-door hatchback and the high performance Evo X version. Tyrell said the price for that model will be competitive with rivals, with standard kit levels higher than on the outgoing Evo IX. More than 300 orders have already been taken.
For the first time there will be two Evo derivatives; the entry level will have a five-speed manual gearbox and be available with a full range of engine upgrades. It’s expected to appeal to the traditional Evo owner. The second model will be more luxurious with a six-speed box featuring a twin-clutch Sports Shift Transmission (SST).