Mitsubishi’s long-departed (and extremely long-lived) Express was the stuff of commercial legend, and the Japanese brand will soon re-enter the light commercial van world… only this time, it’ll be selling rebadged Renault Trafic vans.
Mitsubishi is now part of the Nissan-Renault Alliance, and its chief Carlos Ghosn – one of the most respected car bosses in the automotive world – has been forthright in his desire for the three brands to shed costs by sharing products. In fact, the three companies will cleave around $15 billion in costs by 2022, if Mr Ghosn gets his way. Grafting Mitsubishi badges onto the Trafic is certainly one way of achieving that kind of cross-brand synergy.
The Trafic sits above the Kangoo and underneath the Master in Renault’s commercial line up, and competes against the evergreen Toyota HiAce, the Hyundai iLoad, Volkswagen Transporter and Ford Transit. Since the departure of the Express in 2014 after an epic 20-year production run, Mitsubishi Australia has been without a light or medium-size commercial van in its lineup.
To this end, he has announced that the Renault Trafic light commercial van will provide the basis for a new range of Mitsubishi LCVs from 2020. To be built in Renault’s huge Sandouville plant, the Mitsubishi-branded product will hit Australia in 2020 – or earlier.
Whichcar.com.au understands that Mitsubishi Australia’s CEO Trevor Mann made the request for a Trafic-based van directly with Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi top brass, and that he wants the van on stream as quickly as possible.
The current Trafic is actually powered by Nissan turbo diesels. The short-wheelbase versions use a single-turbo 1.6-litre four-cylinder unit, while the long-wheelbase versions use a twin-turbo version of the same engine.
The only transmission available is a six-speed manual; however, by the time the Mitsubishi-badged version surfaces, an automatic variant of the Trafic will be ready.
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