How committed is Mercedes-Benz South Africa to supporting the Mitsubishi brand in this country over the long term? Several readers have noted that while the quality of the products is good, the marketing of the available products could be a lot better. Or is this related to a deliberate business decision to limit Mitsubishi volumes in South Africa?
Mercedes-Benz South Africa (MBSA) is the SA agent of the Mitsubishi Motor Corporation (in Japan). MBSA is committed to long-term growth and success of the Mitsubishi Motors brand in South Africa.
This commitment started with the assembly of Mitsubishi Colt in East London more than 10 years ago. It was renewed in 2007 when MBSA decided to assemble the new Triton range (the replacement of the Colt) locally.
MBSA has invested over R300m in its manufacturing plant for the local production of the Triton. The product life-cycle for this range of Tritons is approximately seven years.
In addition, MBSA's dealer network has invested extensively in the new Mitsubishi Motors facilities of which some are stand alone dealerships.
A strong business relationship exists between MBSA, Mitsubishi Motor Corporation and Mitsubishi Corporation (in Japan). This relationship has resulted in Mitsubishi Motors in South Africa and Mitsubishi Motor Corporation extending the model line-up and investigating further extension of the model line-up. New models will be launched in South Africa over the forthcoming months and years.
Mitsubishi Motors does not limit the number of models nor vehicles sold in South Africa. Model introductions are based on market feasibility and anticipated market demand.
Please explain the rationale behind Mitsubishi Motor's vehicle warranties? Why are all your vehicles sold with only a two-year/100 000 km warranty? And you offer mainly a three-year/60 000 km service/maintenance plan. How is the maintenance or service plan affected if a warranty has already expired?
As Mercedes-Benz South Africa (MBSA) operates as an agent for Mitsubishi Motor Corporation (in Japan), it is obliged to offer the warranty provided by Mitsubishi Motor Corporation. However the company is reviewing the possibility of expanding warranty provisions and expects to announce changes soon.
MBSA believes that the maintenance plans for the Outlander (3 years/60 000km), Pajero (3 years/60 000km or 5 years/100 000km depending on the model) and Lancer (5 years/100 000km service plan) are competitive and in line with what's on offer in the respective market segments. However, the company is investigating opportunities to improve the offering of the service plan for the LCV range.
Your model range, in the opinion of several readers, is rather limited. A mid-range SUV - between the Outlander and Pajero - with an option of low range and 4X4 could be a welcome addition. Also, considering the increasing popularity of turbodiesel models, why is Outlander not offered with a diesel option? And why, in the Lancer range, do you not offer varying specification levels or at least one model between the two existing models? Is Mitsubishi considering offering more engine and specification options across the local model line-up?
Mitsubishi Motors imports derivatives that are technically compatible for the South African market and that are financially feasible.
The good news is that additional models will be added to the Outlander range during the first quarter of this year. A model to bridge the Outlander and Pajero ranges will be launched later this year.
Mitsubishi Motors would like to introduce the Outlander diesel model in South Africa. However, due to the agreement between Mitsubishi Motor Corporation (in Japan) and the engine supplier there is a geographical restriction on where Mitsubishi Motor Corporation is allowed to sell this model. Mitsubishi Motors in South Africa is addressing this issue and is optimistic of a favourable outcome. If, and when, the restriction is removed, Mitsubishi Motors will be able to sell diesel engine derivatives in South Africa.
The pricing the two existing Lancer models (1.5L at R159 900 and the 2.0L at R175 000) is so close that an additional model is not viable. To improve the model offering to the market, Mitsubishi Motors has decided to launch the 2.0L CVT in June this year.
Mitsubishi Motors continually considers additional engine variants and specification levels across its line-up but market introduction depends on financial feasibility and market demand.
There were several questions related to the possible introduction of new models or derivatives:
Will the Colt hatchback ever be sold in South Africa?
Is the Lancer Ralliart a possibility for South Africa, too? And what about the rumoured GT version of the Lancer? Could this be a possibility for local Mitsubishi lovers, too?
Is Mitsubishi SA considering introducing the next-generation Challenger to compete with Toyota's successful Fortuner?
Mitsubishi Motors is confident that the next generation of the Colt hatch-back will be sold in SA. The current generation is already half-way through its current product life-cycle, so immediate introduction to the local market would not be ideal.
Ralliart is a separate entity to the Mitsubishi Motor Corporation (in Japan). With Mercedes-Benz South Africa being an agent of Mitsubishi Motor Corporation and not Ralliart, it is not possible to introduce it to the South African market.
The Lancer GT is currently not available in South Africa. Mitsubishi Motors believes that in its current form, the vehicle does not offer competitiveness that South African consumers expect in that market segment. However Mitsubishi Motors is engaged in ongoing discussions with Mitsubishi Motor Corporation (in Japan) to improve the vehicle's competitiveness for local consumers.
Mitsubishi Motors is in the final stages of planning the launch of the next generation Challenger (to be called Pajero Sport) in South Africa. This is expected to be launched in the second half of 2008.