There will be no u-turn of Mitsubishi Motors in the UK’s decision to transition away from new car sales, despite reports which suggest the Japanese carmaker could review its decision to withdraw from Europe.
Speaking to AM this afternoon a spokesman for the brand’s UK operation said that there would be “no change” to its current plan to cease trading as a new car sales franchise and transition to aftersales-only by the end of 2021.
“Our plans aren’t about to change,” he insisted. Mitsubishi isn’t developing any more new cars for Europe and that’s a fact.”
The comments come after a report by the Financial Times newspaper this afternoon (February 23) claimed that Mitsubishi Motors could be set to make a u-turn on its decision withdraw from Europe, according to reports.
The FT claimed that the Japanese brand will consider the move at a board meeting on Thursday (February 25), less than a year after its UK importer, the Colt Car Company, informed franchisees of its withdrawal from the UK.
It said that the change of approach came in response to pressure from Alliance partners Renault and Nissan and would result in new Mitsubishi cars being built, by Renault, in France.
The FT said: “The decision to have Renault produce Mitsubishi cars at its French factories in a manufacturing deal, if finalised, would force the Japanese company to justify the U-turn — and face down accusations it yielded to a Renault campaign to protect French jobs.”
The Alliance coalition is held together by Renault’s 43% stake in Nissan which, in turn, owns 34% of Mitsubishi.
The FT reported that the French government’s 15% stake in Renault has fed longstanding fears at the two Japanese carmakers that alliance strategy would be heavily influenced by French industrial politics.
Mitsubishi’s UK car retail network has been adapting to the move away from new vehicle sales for almost a year, with some franchisees choosing to close their dealerships ahead of time after the “shock” news of the brand’s withdrawal last year.
Speaking to AM, the brand spokesman said that the brand still has a network of 100 new car sales locations and 107 approved aftersales sites, however.
He added: “Aftersales was always the main profit driver for the network and the ere remains 400,000 Mitsubishi vehicles on UK roads. That remains a large business proposition in itself.”