Mitsubishi Pajero Sport (2015 Thailand International Motor Expo)

2015 Thailand International Motor Expo: Mitsubishi exhibits Pajero Sport and Mirage

Over a few years, the Thai car market have bounced between having the best annual sales to having an annual sales dropping 50%. It is said that the car market is gradually recovering because of the eco car program and the pickup truck, a perennial favorite; but what is the actual status quo? Mitsubishi will be making the Triton pickup truck its main weapon within the Thai’s main car market. This was something I’ve heard from Mitsubishi Motors Thailand Vice President Hideto Nakahara, who summarizes the sales in Thailand.

The best-selling Mitsubishi car in Thailand is the Triton pick-up truck, which has less than 2,000 monthly sales. The next is the Pajero Sport, whose newly announced model has 1,000 car orders. This is followed by the Attrage—about 750 units of compact sedan, and then the Mirage, which has 400 unit orders. Beginning its announcement last August, since October, the number of Pajero Sport delivery have increased. In fact, the Pajero Sport production is currently on a delay.

Due to the shortage of Pajero Sport units, Mitsubishi Motors Thailand is experiencing difficulties in terms of sales. The current Pajero Sport is mounted with collision mitigation brakes and false start prevention device. These functions were explained on a video that appealed to customers, thereby earning it many preorders. This collision mitigation brake is a first for a Japanese car, and such device has finally been mounted to a pickup truck.

Based on this outcome, it is clear that SUVs are very popular in Thailand. However, the Japanese have a different impression of the SUV. Pick-up trucks are still very popular in Thailand; they had expressed great trust to a car attached to a frame. According to Thais, they call pickup truck-based SUVs, which exude toughness, a “Pickup Passenger Vehicle” (PPV). In Japan, their image of a tough model is a four-wheel drive, off-road vehicle—their version of PPV.

Looking at the overall sales for the past three years from 2013 to 2015, the percentage of SUVs has increased from 3 percent to 5 percent; now, it has increased to 7 percent and is still currently rising. The PPV is at 5 percent to 10 percent and still is getting stronger. Each manufacturer, particularly for PPVs, has spurred this kind of trend in which they continuously produce new models. The Pajero Sport adopted an 8-speed automatic transmission, which gave it a recognition of a European car. For the Thai, a European car is an object of admiration. It has its own specific equipment and the design is very good.

Meanwhile, the demand for eco cars (compact eco cars in Thailand have to meet certain requirements, such as having a fuel economy of above 20km/l) might shift towards other automakers. The market share of single and club cab pickup trucks in 2000 was 43%, and it went down 31% in 2015. Against such backdrop, Mitsubishi announced the remodeled Mirage at the Thailand International Motor Expo. This will improve Mitsubishi’s appeal in the Thai car market, especially in meeting the demands of urban areas.

(Translated by Charmaine Apple Silagan)