Mike Stevens | Aug 8, 2009

Mitsubishi President and CEO, Robert McEniry has given an upbeat assessment of Mitsubishi Australia's position, which will be further strengthened by a full product launch program over the next six months.

Soon to join the rampant Triton - which has all-but sold out its '09 model allocation - is a new Challenger and Mitsubishi's landmark electric car, the i MiEV.

While the Challenger is due in dealerships in November, a small number of i MiEVs (pronounced "eye-meeve") are expected late this year or early next.

"We'll be happy if we can get 20, 10, or even five (i MiEVs) this year. The issue is to get the ball rolling... next year we anticipate better supplies," Mr McEniry said.

While "there has been extraordinary interest (in the i MiEV) at private sale level", Mitsubishi's strategy is to initially lease the first batch, with most to be allocated to corporates, "perhaps some councils" and semi-Government authorities.

The strategy here is to get the car into the hands of people and organisations who will give it some profile.

As for pricing, Mitsubishi research indicates that customers would be prepared to pay a "Prius-plus" sticker price for the i MiEV.

While there is currently next to no infrastructure in place, "we plan to bring in as quickly as possible (a number of) fast-charge-stations for the i MiEV," Mr McEniry said.

With stock shortages due to sales demand for Triton, Lancer and Outlander; with current sales exceeding retail and wholesale targets, and with a full book of new products heading this way, Mitsubishi Australia has found itself with a strong balance sheet and in a positive cash position.

Last financial year, MMAL returned a net profit of $1million; while barely 'in the black', that result reflected a turnaround of $356.5 million from the year before.

In the past year, the local operation has eliminated over $70 million in structural costs, reduced inventories by $65 million, and "moved from being a borrower to a net lender," Mr McEniry said.

"This has given us a stable base for going forward," he said.

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