Mitsubishi schedules 2021 PHEV debut

Mitsubishi schedules 2021 PHEV debut

Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV for Europe. This model will be assembled at the Chon Buri plant some time in 2020 and begin selling in January 2021. (Photo of Mitsubishi Motors Corporation)
Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV for Europe. This model will be assembled at the Chon Buri plant some time in 2020 and begin selling in January 2021. (Photo of Mitsubishi Motors Corporation)

Japanese car maker Mitsubishi Motors Thailand plans to begin selling the Thai-assembled Outlander plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) locally in January 2021.

This PHEV project is part of the government's EV scheme. Mitsubishi applied for two EV versions in late 2018: PHEVs and battery electric vehicles (BEVs).

The Board of Investment (BoI) granted privileges for Mitsubishi's investment application worth 3.13 billion baht last March.

President and chief executive Morikazu Chokki said the Thai market could be a good testing ground for PHEVs because the charging stations have yet to be installed across the country.

"The Outlander can be driven in electric mode up to 60 kilometres, which is suitable for Bangkok. Drivers can shift to the gasoline mode for longer distances," he said.

"An export plan has yet to be disclosed."

Mitsubishi plans to sell 3,000 plug-in hybrid cars in 2020.

Mr Chokki said Mitsubishi's BEV plan is being considered by the BoI, so the company cannot reveal further details regarding investment value and time frame.

He said the company's paint factory upgrade in Laem Chabang, Chon Buri has begun construction and is scheduled to be completed in 2-3 years.

"The reconstruction process, including adoption of technologies and automation, will be completed two years after construction is finished, so the latest plan, worth ¥25 billion [7.18 billion baht], will be finished in 4-5 years," said Mr Chokki.

Mitsubishi reported 2019 exports of 332,700 locally made vehicles, a 3.9% drop. Of the total volume in 2019, 284,500 vehicles were shipped as completely built-up units, down 0.9% year-on-year, while the remaining 48,200 units were exported as completely knocked-down kits, down 18.6%.

Its completely built-up export volume in 2019 was No.1, with Mitsubishi Thailand surpassing rival Toyota for the top spot.

In Japan, Mitsubishi posted local sales in 2019 of 88,244 units, up 4.4%, compensating for a Thai car market that fell 3.3% to 1,007,552 units sold last year.

The brand had an 8.8% market share in 2019 within Thailand, ranking fourth after Toyota, Isuzu and Honda.

Of Mitsubishi's total sales in 2019, the Thai-made Triton pickup sold 35,807 units, while 16,196 units of the Indonesia-made Xpander sport-utility vehicle were delivered.

Mitsubishi produced 407,200 units at Chon Buri, an 8.3% drop.

For 2020, Mitsubishi forecasts the Thai car market will see 920,000-950,000 units sold.

The car maker expects to capture a 9% market share this year by selling 82,800-85,500 units.

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