Mitsubishi set to be forced back into the European market
Discussions within the Renault-Nissan Alliance could soon pressure Mitsubishi to backtrack on its decision to leave Europe
Mitsubishi could soon reverse its decision to leave the European market, following increased pressure from Renault and Nissan. According to the Financial Times, the Alliance members have already constructed a framework for the backtrack and are due to formally consider the move at a board meeting on Thursday.
The decision could see Renault produce Mitsubishi vehicles in its French factories, a move that could cause a PR headache for the Japanese brand. The French government owns a 15 per cent stake in Renault – and as Mitsubishi is partially owned by the French manufacturer, it could soon face accusations of assisting a Renault drive to protect French jobs.
Executives from both Mitsubishi and Nissan are concerned that the deal has been designed as a political bargaining chip to increase the workload in struggling French factories and win union support. A similar move occured back in 2001, when Renault moved production of the Nissan Micra from Sunderland to Flins, Paris.
Mitsubishi says its plans for the UK market have not changed. The company is still steadily moving towards becoming an after-sales service by the end of the year – and there are no official plans to bring Mitsubishi’s newest models to Britain.
However, should this change, Mitsubish’s UK importer would be met with a serious network problem. A number of UK dealers have already left the brand following Mitsubishi’s original exit announcement in July, fearing supply shortages and the lack of future new models. To get the dealer network back up to scratch would require a seismic shift back towards the brand, with heavy costs likely.