Mitsubishi Calls it Quits: Offers Badge-Engineered Nissans in Japan

by Gabrielle DeSantis

In a move that isn’t completely unexpected, Mitsubishi is stopping the development of new platforms for Japan. Instead, it will badge-engineer Nissan vehicles. This follows Mitsubishi pulling out of Europe completely. Does it seem like Mitsubishi is slowing ceding vehicle manufacturing? 

Mitsubishi is doing this to cut down on platforms it must develop

2015 Lancer Evolution Final Edition | Mitsubishi

According to Nikkei Asia, the company will start selling Nissan vehicles in place of its own by 2026. This will supposedly only happen for its home market of Japan. The reason is that it wants to lower the number of models it has to create.

This is an expected move to help lower development costs while it slowly ramps up EV investment. The ability to divert funds will help it grow its EV catalog. And both Nissan and Mitsubishi are sister companies, so either way, the money goes into the same pot. 

It also follows an overall reorganization in 2020 by Groupe Renault. Besides Mitsubishi, it owns Renault, Nissan, Infiniti, Dacia, Alpine, Venucia, and Lada. With so much overlap, and with Nissan’s problems, Groupe Renault is trying to spread out development costs by eliminating overlapping. 

Mitsubishi parent Groupe Renault calls it “Small But Beautiful”

fast and the furious mitsubishi eclipse gsx
fast and the furious Mitsubishi Eclipse GSX | Ollie Millington/Getty Images

Called “Small But Beautiful” the plan is for those manufacturers with weak sales in certain countries to pull out. In a strong market, they will stay. That was the reasoning behind Mitsubishi announcing its plan to exit Europe. 

But that pull-out strategy has changed. Now, it will stick around, adding its own version of two new Renault vehicles in 2023. At this point, we don’t know if they will be badge-engineered or contain Mitsubishi-designed interiors, exteriors, and/or drivetrains. 

What we do know is that Mitsubishi currently has eight different platforms. It wants to pare them down to four. Two of those platforms will be for the Southeast Asia market, and two will be developed with Nissan’s involvement. Two models it previously killed are the Lancer and Pajero SUV. 

Sales have been heading down the past several years

mitsubishi lancer evolution
French Gilles Panizzi and his co-pilot Herve Panizzi take a turn in their Mitsubishi Lancer WRC04 before the 72nd Monte Carlo Rally, 22 January 2004 in Sospel | PASCAL GUYOT/AFP via Getty Images

Mitsubishi has seen a steady decline in sales in the US over the past several years. Selling around 120,000 vehicles in 2018 and 2019, those numbers slipped to 87,000 last year. This year it is seeing an increase with 53,378 vehicles so far. 

Less than 20 years ago the company sold 345,915 cars and SUVs. So its rapidly declining popularity here has placed the company on a death watch. By 2009 sales had skidded to only 53,988 cars sold. Mitsubishi’s SUVs have come to save the day. Whether they will be enough to sustain the manufacturer here we don’t know. 

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