By Chris Ward, September 26, 2022
Life was good for Mitsubishi Motors, the 52-year-old Japanese car company that had a nice but dim lineup of products was doing well. They made nothing fancy, more functional and utilitarian than groundbreaking because that was the Mitsubishi way for a long time. Then, a few years ago Mitsubishi executives got involved in a spot of bother, just a bit of corporate corruption. The company was facing imminent bankruptcy and closure before the Renault Nissan alliance stepped in and saved the day. In hindsight, it would have been better for all concerned if Mitsubishi was left in ruins never to be resurrected again. There is no fate worse than being doomed by the looming shadow of Renault.
However, the Renault Nissan Alliance, seeking to enlarge its already shaky existence, opted to buy the smoldering remains of Mitsubishi. And like a Frankenstein being, Mitsubishi is being turned into a re-badged Renault in preparations for a European rebirth. The new generation ASX is now based on the current generation Renault Capture. Alas, Mitsubishi’s revival is a fate now sealed in a tomb of permanent mediocrity.
The decision by Mitsubishi to relaunch in Europe is a reversal of fortunes after the company announced it was pulling out of Europe in 2020. The immediate plan back then was to secure more profitable markets in South East Asia and Japan. However, Renault was positioning itself to secure the rights to relaunch Mitsubishi in Europe.
The ASX compact SUV will frogmarch Mitsubishi back into Europe, it is considered to be a core model for the company. Peak sales hit 48,000 units in 2011 before sliding to 17,000 in 2020. The Renault-based ASX will be built in Renault factories thus avoiding expensive import duties. A second model, a compact car based on the Renault Clio, is due to launch in November 2023.
When the all-new Mitsubishi ASX goes on sale in Europe in March 2023 it will utilize Renault engines, digital infotainment systems and powertrains including full hybrid and plug-in hybrid derivatives. To be fair, under the previous corrupt management, Mitsubishi was not investing in its future, the company’s assets were being stripped and siphoned off by the previous regime.