IF MITSUBISHI’S dealers thought last year was a good time to be in the network, 2014 is shaping up to be even better.
New products, a reinvigorated brand and a range of eye-catching advertisements are helping Mitsubishi dealers bask in increased profitability and sales.
And the company isn’t resting on its laurels. It wants to expand its dealer network and allow more partners to share in the success.
This year sees Mitsubishi riding high and becoming one of the fastest-growing brands. That’s on top of being in a similar position last year. ‘I am delighted by this,’ says Mitsubishi Motors in the UK’s managing director Lance Bradley. ‘2014 sees us continuing to be one of the fastest-growing car brands in the UK. This is amazing – to do it one year is fantastic but to do it for a second year running is remarkable.’
Bradley knows that this position hasn’t come about by good luck, but by sheer hard work and a company that is in arguably its most optimistic mood ever.
‘The strength of the current line-up and the quality and expansion of our dealer network are responsible for this,’ says Bradley. ‘The new Outlander PHEV is not the only car to have helped this – we only started to deliver customers’ cars a month ago – but the rest of the range as well. We haven’t got all our eggs in one basket with Outlander PHEV – all of our range is up and performing well.
‘Our activity on TV, in the cinema and on billboards and radio has been massive for us. We have seen inquiries increase by more than fivefold – and we can measure that as all of our marketing drives people to our website. And the exciting thing about this is the level of spend for marketing continues for the foreseeable future. Some dealers have been asking me if it’s been a great initial peak – but I can assure you it’s not. This is what it is going to be like from now on.’
Our latest plan is to sell 7,500 Outlander PHEVs – but I actually think we will do 10,000
As Bradley says, the Outlander PHEV is proving to be a massive success story. This mid-sized SUV costs from £28,249 (after the £5k Government subsidy) and delivers 148mpg and CO2 emissions of 44g/km. Yet despite all of this, it costs the same as the diesel-powered Outlander. And dealers are experiencing so much demand, Mitsubishi has given them more demonstrators. Not surprisingly, Bradley is realigning his sales expectations for the car.
‘When we first announced our plans for the year, we thought we’d do 1,500 PHEVs this year,’ he explains. ‘When you bear in mind the total market for plug-in hybrids last year was 981 units, planning at 1,500 cars and consequently taking two-thirds of the market is a big task.
‘Our latest plan is 7,500 but I actually think we will do 10,000 – we can get as many as we want from the factory. So, how surprised am I to have gone from 1,500 to 10,000? Er… quite surprised!’
And the third reason for that success has been the growth of a dealer network that delivers excellent customer service.
‘The quality of our network is one of our key strengths,’ says Bradley. ‘We started on the philosophy of excellent service five years ago and we deliberately called it “excellent service” because nobody talks about good service – you expect good service, but you don’t expect excellent service. We did this because we looked at how we could differentiate ourselves from our competitors. We are not the cheapest – and I don’t ever want to be – we could be the best value but that is hard to measure. Sometimes we have the best products – such as the Outlander PHEV – but there are times when we won’t have the best products, so you can’t use that as a strategy. Having excellent service you can do forever – and it is really hard for anyone to copy.’
The network is currently heading towards 120 – but Bradley doesn’t want it to stand still for the remaining half of the year.
‘I think we probably need circa 130,’ he explains. ‘And there are no hard and fast rules – we think 130 is a good number. In the case of some of the smaller territories we are not planning to fill, if we found a great operator in a small territory it may be more than 130.
‘We are looking for another 10-15 extra dealers in places where we don’t currently have any representation. There are a couple of big cities that we need to be in: Manchester – we have appointed a dealer in north Manchester but we are looking for great representation in other parts of the city – and Liverpool.
‘But really, if a dealer is reading this and is wondering “Is Mitsubishi looking for somebody in my area?” – if the nearest Mitsubishi dealer is 30 or so miles away from you, then yes we want to speak to you.’
To find out more about becoming a Mitsubishi dealer, contact the Network Development Team on 01285 647714