For ‘Engleberg’, read ‘Outlander replacement’
There is no denying the value of Outlander to Mitsubishi as a brand. It has provided a platform that unusually includes cars as special as the Lancer Evolution but has also underpinned SUV models for both Citroen (C-Crosser) and Peugeot (4007) and its own PHEV model that is a renowned success story in its own right.
However, as a car designed in the late-1990s, which made its debut in 2001, albeit heavily revised for 2006, it is also a model that is now twelve years old at least and is in need of replacement. Vehicle gestation periods occupy normally a span of three to five years, before being launched, given a mid-life refresher exercise at around four years of age and a total replacement three to four years subsequently. The Outlander has outlived expectations by a considerable margin.
While the company’s broader problems have been well-chronicled, since its incorporation with the Renault-Nissan Alliance, it has been able to contemplate product range revisions and replacements with significantly greater confidence. Yet, for Mitsubishi to be considered as a viable carmaker, it needs to be careful that it does not confuse its consumer offering, as Land Rover has done to its cost, with a confusing range of broadly similar models.
Already spotted in a few concept guises for the past 12-18 months and now known as the Mitsubishi Engleberg Tourer concept, named after an elegant Swiss ski resort, when it is unveiled at early March’s Geneva Motor Show, it is also likely to be confirmed as the replacement for the outstanding Outlander. Mitsubishi needs a showcase for its EV technology and not being a Shogun family member does grant it an amount of much-welcomed brand ‘freedom’.
With access to just one photograph, because the car set to be revealed in Geneva is likely to feature some radical design and technological precepts, as well as being ‘highly secret’ at this stage, rest assured that Mitsubishi is redevising its eco-technology stance and, in the starting-blocks, is the Engleberg concept, which appears to be as striking as any EV model can be. It will make the Outlander PHEV look antediluvian, which is perfect for a market segment that is growing steadily but which also needs a shot of innovation. Therefore, Engleberg is actually more a replacement for Outlander than any of its rivals will be aware of.
Luscombe’s summary: Mitsubishi’s uniquely appealing PHEV has been shoved from pillar to post in recent months by the government dropping its former eligibility for a plug-in EV grant. The ‘all-new’ Outlander will take eco-friendly motoring to another level.
Next week: Mitsubishi’s latest Mirage.
Mitsubishi and the horse business
Although Mitsubishi Motors UK has ceased its collaboration with the annual Badminton Horse Trials, reports Iain Robertson, it remains a brand of tremendous value to the equestrian sector, an aspect underpinned by the Shogun model range.
Location played an important role for The Colt Car Company and Mitsubishi Motors UK, with a massive Royal Polo Ground within spitting distance of its Cirencester headquarters and the Badminton Estate, under the stewardship of The Princess Royal, only a few miles away. As a means of reaching out to a market that ought to be closely aligned with it, Mitsubishi enjoyed a purple patch in its history.
Yet, the growth of the SUV sector has been so enormous, since the turn of the Millennium, that consumer choice, even of a more specialised nature, no longer provides an advantage to Mitsubishi. Having said that, Mitsubishi, with its L200 pickup trucks, Shogun model range and the ubiquitous Outlander, with its best-selling PHEV option for the eco-conscious, is still a name synonymous with equestrian sporting endeavour.
The UK’s representation around the world has benefited from the association, which can now boast of three Olympic Team Golds, two individual Gold honours, multiple World Championship Golds and even more in the European series. While the Trials were always the headlining event on the expansive estate, with a challenging series of routes selected over the years across the South Gloucestershire countryside, both dressage and show-jumping have always been major visitor attractions. Network TV coverage also played a vital part in generating publicity and support.
Mitsubishi became the title sponsor in 1992, only relinquishing its prestigious sponsorship deal last year. It is reputed to have cost the company over £1m for the final three-year deal, although the actual investment in personnel, products and guests was probably three times that amount.
In the meantime, Mitsubishi has also been spreading its wings with sponsorship of rugby, winter sports and smaller equestrian events, while its support of certain celebrities, or Brand Ambassadors, as the company prefers to call them, has grown significantly in recent months.
Luscombe’s summary: From our Leeds base, we have great access to several major equestrian events that take place in the region. We are also conscious of how important the horse scene is to many of our valued customers.
Next week: Mitsubishi concepts that never made the grade.
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