Alliance partner Mitsubishi is discontinuing its China business. The Japanese carmaker justifies withdrawing from the Chinese market by saying that the shift from internal combustion to electric vehicles in China has hit its existing range, and sales have fallen far short of expectations.
Production at the Changsha plant in Hunan province was already halted in March. Mitsubishi has only one electric model on offer in China. Only 515 units of the eSUV Airtrek were sold last year.
Mitsubishi is not the only legacy carmaker struggling to keep up in China. While many legacy carmakers continue to focus on larger status vehicles, indicators show that smaller vehicles with lower space and energy requirements are doing well.
Chinese companies are also competing strongly in luxury segments with advanced software, among other things. According to the IEA Global EV Outlook report for 2023, China currently accounts for around 60% of global electric car sales.
It’s not Mitsubishi’s first withdrawal from a country or even a whole continent. A few years ago, it withdrew from the European market. This was after the earlier decision to freeze the development of all new models destined for Europe because of the adaptation costs.
In March 2021, Alliance partner Renault turned up as a savior. Late this year, Mitsubishi has now commercialized two vehicles that are, in fact, very popular Renault products in the B segment: the Clio and the Captur. As Mitsubishi models, they are sold as the Colt and the ASX.
The Renault Clio and Captur are sold as Mitsubishi Colt and ASX in Europe but not in Belgium /Mitsubishi
Apart from the two Renault-derived, small Mitsubishi models, the Japanese manufacturer will focus on the newly introduced PHEV version of its Eclipse Cross. The completely new Outlander PHEV will not be offered in Europe. In some countries, like Belgium, for example, Mitsubishi hasn’t returned to the market yet. It’s unclear if and when this is going to happen.