Mitsubishi Motors announced on Monday to freeze the development and launch of new models for Europe and to focus on markets in Asia, Africa, Australia and South America. This does not exclude Mitsubishi from leaving Europe. The brand has a special relationship with the Netherlands. That’s how the Japanese fared in our country.
Mitsubishi has been active in the Netherlands since the 1970s and models such as the Colt and Galant quickly became established. In addition, in the early eighties, the Space Wagon was one of the first brands to respond to the growing demand for space cars.
The Pajero is also such a product from that time. The indestructible all-terrain vehicle is still regularly used by market vendors and managers, including those that are almost forty years old. With 15,225 registrations, Mitsubishi had one of the best years ever in the Netherlands in 1987.
Carisma posters are causing a stir
In the years that followed, sales fell and in 1994 a provisional low of 8,202 units was reached. In the second half of the 1990s, the Dutch buyer public embraced Mitsubushi again.
This was mainly due to the collaboration with the Dutch government and Volvo. Together, the three parties revived the old DAF factory in Born in Limburg for the production of the Mitsubishi Carisma and the Volvo S40 / V40, which were located on the same platform. To top it all off, Mitsubishi took advantage of the AutoRai in 1995 as a trade fair for the world premiere of the Carisma.
The car has been etched in national memory since its introduction. Not so much because of beautiful design or reliable technology, but because of a sensational marketing campaign from 1997. Mitsubishi gave away eighty copies and all you had to do was hang the newspaper page with the Carisma advertisement in front of the window. The street scene in the Netherlands was soon determined by red newspaper pages on the windows. Reportedly, one in three homes in our country had such a poster on the window.
Mitsubishi sales did benefit. The number of registrations of the Carisma increased from 3,298 in 1996 to 7,815 in the year of the advertising campaign, while the total number of registrations of Mitsubishi rose to 13,669 copies. Ultimately, the brand had the best year ever in the Netherlands in 1999 with sales of 15,375 passenger cars.
The car was not a surprise, the advertising campaign all the more. (Photo: AutoWeek)
Silence before the storm
As if history repeated itself, sales fell again not much later. Between 1999 and 2003, Mitsubishi sales in the Netherlands nearly halved. The production of the Colt in Limburg could not change that. For that model, the Japanese brand had partnered with Daimler, as a result of which the Smart ForFour also rolled off the production line in Limburg.
The Smart was not a success and production was stopped prematurely. Mitsubishi filled the gap by moving the construction of the Outlander to the Netherlands. Peugeot and Citroen supplied their own models on a Mitsubishi basis, which meant that there was also talk of bringing the production of these cars to Limburg. The global economic crisis and disappointing demand ultimately put a stop to this.
In 2012, Mitsubishi announced to stop production in the Netherlands. Coincidence or not, that year the brand experienced the worst sales year in our country to date. Only 3,580 new cars were registered. Fortunately for the Japanese, it was only a calm before the storm.
The decision to stop NedCar sparked protests in 2012. (Photo: NU.n)
Addition benefit boosted sales
That same year, the new Mitsubishi Outlander was announced. The model was also available with plug-in hybrid drive. At that time, tax legislation in the Netherlands was such that business drivers did not have to pay additional tax. The rest is history.
In 2013 the number of registrations was already at 12,251, of which 8,730 Outlanders. In 2014, Mitsubishi experienced the best year since 1999 with a sales volume of 14,533 units in the Netherlands. Unfortunately, that seems to have been a temporary upturn.
The attention for the Outlander PHEV diverted attention from the fact that Mitsubishi had already had a freely stripped-down offer for a number of years. Models like the Colt and Galant had long since disappeared. Although the Space scored well with the Space Star city car and ASX, there were no innovations.
The mentioned models are still available in 2020. The ASX is basically ten years old, the Space Star seven years old. The last truly new Mitsubishi was the 2017 Ecplise Cross. Earlier this month, the new Outlander was announced for 2021, but that introduction seems to be off the track with Monday’s news.
Mitsubishi Motors Netherlands does not exclude that the brand will disappear in a few years. However, the organization emphasizes that it still offers parts and service related to the model at least ten years after the model has been stopped.
NU.nl tested the Eclips Cross in the snow in 2018.