This article was originally published by Fleet News.
Mitsubishi’s exit from the UK market will be keenly felt by many fleet operators, particularly those operating the popular Outlander plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV).
The manufacturer told Fleet News that stocks of existing models, including the Outlander PHEV and L200 pick-up, will continue to be sold until they no longer meet emissions regulations. It also confirmed that it will not be bringing any new models to the UK and Europe.
Aftersales support will be provided by existing dealers and the Colt Car Company, which imports Mitsubishi vehicles to the UK.
A statement provided by the company said: “We will continue to sell the existing range of Mitsubishi vehicles and to provide full customer support in terms of service, repair, warranty, recalls, parts and accessories. We will provide updates when we know more.”
The manufacturer also stressed that it had been impossible for it to contact all of its fleet customers simultaneously, but it wanted to talk to all of its clients in person to offer them assurances.
“All our clients will be taken care of for as long as they are running our vehicles, that is a guarantee,” said a Mitsubishi spokesman.
Dale Eynon, director of Defra Group Fleet Services, Environment Agency, told Fleet News that the news was both “unexpected and disappointing”.
He said that the Outlander PHEV (commercial variant), in particular, has been a “vital part of our programme to reduce emissions, whilst maintaining full operational capability and being cost effective”.
He added: “We will need to get some urgent and immediate assurances from the Colt Car Company in relation to existing assets in respect of SMR and warranty claims to make sure there is no drop in service over the coming years.”
The Outlander PHEV has proved popular with company car drivers, because of the low benefit-in-kind (BIK) tax it attracts, and the commercial variant with fleet operators keen to drive down emissions.
Nathan Tomlinson, managing director of Devonshire Motors and a member of Mitsubishi’s Motors in the UK’s ‘dealer council’, told AM that The Colt Car Company’s stock of around 15,000 vehicles at Portbury Docks – along with an ability to order more stock until the end of 2021 – would ensure a supply of new pick-ups and cars in the near term.
He also hopes yesterday’s news would not further dampen consumer confidence in the brand at a time when many businesses are battling to recover from the COVID-19 lockdown period.
In the longer-term, Eynon said: “I hope that other OEMs will fill the gap that the Outlander PHEV leaves to help combat the climate emergency we are all facing.”