MITSUBISHI Motors Australia Limited (MMAL) has announced that it will discontinue sales of its Express van in Australia. This development comes a mere 22 months after the Renault Trafic-based model was introduced in the local market.
The company says that upon assessing current global business and supply conditions with Mitsubishi Motors Corporation, the “decision has now been made to cease production of (the) Australian market Mitsubishi Express”.
May 2022 will be the final production month for short wheelbase (SWB) variants of the Express, however MMAL says “solid stocks” of the model means there is sufficient supply of the vehicle to meet demand until the end of the calendar year. The supply of long wheelbase (LWB) Express versions is expected to be exhausted by mid-year.
MMAL will continue to provide service, parts and accessories support for the Express and says the model has delivered value for owners since its introduction here in mid-2020.
Despite an appalling zero-star ANCAP safety rating – and a design age of more than eight years – the X82-series Mitsubishi Express has continued to sell well locally, achieving year-to-date segment sales of 387 units, ranking it fifth overall in the Vans/CC 2.5t – 3.5t category.
The Express entered the Australian market in June 2020, with the model aimed squarely at the fleet buyers. Speaking to GoAuto at the time, MMAL product strategy senior manager Owen Thomson said that while the light-commercial mid-size van segment was not a major one in terms of overall volume, it was an important market nonetheless.
That importance soon faded when the Express van failed to deliver the level of safety fleet buyers expected. In March last year, the Mitsubishi Express was awarded a zero-star safety rating by the Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP). The safety body said the Express van’s inherent lack of safety systems and marginal performance in physical crash tests resulted in the issuing of its first-ever zero-star crash test result.
Specifically, the van received a score 55 per cent for adult occupant protection, 40 per cent for vulnerable road-user protection and just seven per cent for safety-assist systems.
Chest-, knee- and neck injuries were all noted as serious risk areas during frontal impact testing, while partial ejection was identified as a major risk during the side-impact- and pole tests.
ANCAP chief executive Carla Hoorweg expressed her disappointment in the results and said the (then recently released) Express’ specifications “do not align with today’s safety expectations”.
MMAL defended the result by saying that, as was the case of with its “twin under the skin” Renault Trafic, the Express was designed to comply with 2015 Euro NCAP criteria. When the Trafic was tested in Europe seven years ago, it was awarded a three-star safety rating; MMAL noted that, by 2020, the Express was deep into its product cycle.
Locally, the light commercial van segment is dominated by the Toyota HiAce. With YTD unit sales of 2596, the model outpaces competitors including the LDV G10/G10+ (880), Hyundai Staria Load (688), Ford Transit Custom (493), Mitsubishi Express (387), Volkswagen Transporter (290), Renault Trafic (213), Mercedes-Benz Vito (212), the now defunct Hyundai iLoad (78), Peugeot Expert (63), as well as the LDV V80 (51).