Mitsubishi has no intention to change plans from becoming an aftersales-only business in the UK despite reports the Japanese firm has scrapped plans to leave Europe.
Media reports yesterday (Feb 23) said Mitsubishi could make a U-turn on its decision to pull out of Europe, and instead make a new agreement with Alliance partners Renault and Nissan to build cars in Renault’s factories in France.
A board meeting later this week could ratify the decision, said the Financial Times.
However, even if Mitsubishi Motors changes tack, its UK business has no intention to cancel plans to become an aftersales-only business.
Referring to the media reports, a spokesman said: ‘We won’t comment on this but I can tell you that Mitsubishi UK’s plans to transition to an aftersales-only business before the end of the year have not changed.’
From late 2021, Mitsubishi’s UK-arm – the Colt Car Company – will no longer sell brand new models and instead will provide full customer support in terms of service, repair, warranty, recalls, parts and accessories.
Speaking about the news Mitsubishi could make a U-turn in Europe, Devonshire Motors owner and dealer principal, Nathan Tomlinson, told Car Dealer: ‘In Europe, and particularly in the UK, the automotive sector is in the midst of a revolutionary period.
‘You have to remember that things are changing on a global scale too, though. It’s not unreasonable to expect big tactical transformations as a result.
‘It wouldn’t surprise me if there was still a Mitsubishi presence in Europe one day in the future. But today, as things stand, I don’t see how this news can alter the path we’re on as dealers in the UK.
‘Many of my dealer friends and colleagues have had a very difficult time and have had to make some tough decisions, the same goes for the Colt Car Company.
‘This news doesn’t change that, but it remains to be seen whether or not it changes anything in the future.’
Mitsubishi dealers in the UK have been working to replace the brand in their showrooms following the announcement in July 2020.
Although this may potentially be great news for some who could continue new car sales where they had planned for only aftersales going forwards, it is likely to be greeted with frustration from many.
Recently appointed Renault chief executive Luca de Meo has already made comments that such a deal ‘could be done’ with Mitsubishi.
It has been suggested that the Japanese brands Mitsubishi and Nissan believe Renault’s decisions are driven by its French government shareholders – and this move would boost the economy and jobs in the country.
Renault announced in June last year that it would be cutting 14,600 jobs globally, and 4,600 would be lost in France.
Speaking to the FT last month, de Meo said: ‘We have space in our plants; we have platforms.’
The Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance is a coalition between the three car makers.
Renault owns a 43 per cent stake in Nissan, which in turn owns a 34 per cent stake in Mitsubishi. The French government then has a 15 per cent stake in Renault.
Speaking when the news of Mitsubishi’s withdrawal from Europe was first announced, managing director of Mitsubishi Motors UK revealed that even he was shocked by the news but that he would ‘work a way through it’ with his dealer partners.
Last year it was also revealed that SsangYong owner GB’s owner, Bassadone Automotive Group, tried to buy Mitsubishi Motors UK but the deal fell through.
Story by Rebecca Chaplin with additional reporting by James Batchelor