The owner of SsangYong GB is poised to take over Mitsubishi in the UK, Car Dealer can exclusively reveal.
Bassadone Automotive Group – the parent company of SsangYong, based in Gibraltar – has confirmed it is in talks with Mitsubishi Corporation about taking over the distribution rights for the brand in the UK.
In what one dealer claimed was a ‘reverse takeover’ of the Colt Car Company the move could save a swathe of jobs at Mitsubishi head office.
Sources have claimed a large round of redundancies have already been announced at Mitsubishi HQ in Cirencester.
Nick Laird, CEO of Bassadone Automotive Group, told Car Dealer: ‘We are in discussions with each other.
‘No formal agreement has been reached.
‘We are both trying to work out a way for SsangYong and Mitsubishi to work together in the UK.’
Mitsubishi announced in July that it would be stopping development of models for Europe, effectively killing the brand off.
However, there is a chance this new deal could see Mitsubishi continue to keep a foothold in the UK should a relevant model become available that the new importers could then type approve for UK shores.
The talks – masterminded by Laird and former Mitsubishi UK boss Jim Tyrell, now chairman of SsangYong GB – have been confirmed to the respective dealer networks.
One dealer said: ‘It’s effectively a reverse takeover of Colt Car Company by Bassadone, the owners of SsangYong GB.
‘They will get the rights to distribute new models for as long as they can get them and then they will take over the aftersales business.
‘Mitsubishi dealers will also be offered SsangYong franchises.
‘I think it could work really well – Mitsubishi owners would be able to get their cars serviced and be offered the chance to upgrade into a SsangYong if they’re looking to change their car in the future.’
It is believed that Bassadone Automotive Group would continue to import new Mitsubishi models until they are phased out for European production towards the end of 2022.
At that point the dealer network would be able to sell used models and provide servicing for Mitsubishi.
A source said the move would ‘effectively allow Mitsubishi to make a graceful exit’ from the UK.
Another dealer source added: ‘The talks are in advanced stages and, although no deal has been done, it looks likely it will.
‘It would work very well for SsangYong as they could rapidly roll out their brand to dealers and also those dealers would benefit from a steady aftersales business.’
The Colt Car Company declined to comment.
Jim Holder, editorial director of Haymarket Automotive, publisher of Autocar and WhatCar? said that the move should be seen as a ‘positive’.
He said: ‘For all Mitsubishis faults, they do produce some good cars that have a loyal following so if this allows those owners to continue to have their cars serviced and gives them a choice when it’s time for something new that has to be a good thing.’