Would you spend more than $65,000, before on-road costs, on a Mitsubishi? If you answered yes, Mitsubishi says you’re not alone.
The Japanese manufacturer is the latest mainstream brand to try and push more upmarket in Australia, saying it no longer wants to be known as a company that only makes “cheap and cheerful” cars.
Instead, Mitsubishi plans to expand its various model ranges through the addition of new, more expensive flagship variants that could see prices grow to more than $70,000 before on-roads for some models.
Mitsubishi isn’t the only mainstream brand trying to become more premium. Mazda has been pursuing a shift towards more luxurious and more expensive models for years, while Kia and Hyundai have also flirted with increasing the price of entry to various model ranges with mixed results.
However, unlike its rivals, Mitsubishi says its premium push won’t see it abandon the affordable end of the market. Adding more luxurious model grades while also retaining ‘price leaders’ is the goal.
Mitsubishi’s Australian boss, Shaun Westcott, pointed to the new Outlander PHEV as a prime example. Its flagship Exceed Tourer variant starts at $68,990.
“We are still good value for money,” Westcott told Wheels. “If you take [the new] Outlander PHEV and you look at the technology in that car, we don’t have to stand back from any luxury carmaker in terms of what we are presenting. So at that price they are extremely good value for money, but we are not a cheap car.”
Marching upmarket can be fraught for mainstream brands, especially for a company like Mitsubishi that has traded on value for years. However, Westcott added Mitsubishi’s data proves there are customers out there looking for a more premium offering.
“We’re stretching the model line-up,” he said. “We have an increasing number of customers who expect a more premium product from us, which is why we’re stretching the range. Exceed, Exceed Tourer, that’s where we’re going.
“And our pipeline for Exceed Tourer is longer and the demand is higher than our entry level products. Which tells us we are attracting consideration and buyers that wouldn’t have considered us before. So we are conquesting and that’s exactly what we’re trying to achieve.”
Despite the desire to grow sales of higher-spec models, which in turn have higher profit margins, Westcott was quick to reiterate it didn’t mean Mitsubishi was abandoning value as a core pillar of the brand.
“We will still have an ES or LS entry level vehicle that will be aimed at fleet and rental car companies,” he said.
“There is still a need in the market for, I’m not going to call it bare bones, that sounds too harsh, but there is still a place in the market for a value for money vehicle. We will still have that. We are not deserting or leaving those customers in the lurch. We will still have a product for them.”
Westcott also added Mitsubishi provided its customers value in other ways, beyond a low purchase price.
“We offer Japanese quality that we are extremely proud of,” he said. “That is our differentiator. There is value in that that our customers see and appreciate.
“And there is more than just the product. It’s everything that surrounds the product. It’s the service you get from your dealer, it’s the customer service pre- purchase and post-purchase.
“It’s the fact you get a 10 year warranty. We know what our cars can do and how long they’ll last. We are undercutting and underselling ourselves to sell those as cheap vehicles.”