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Mitsubishi Australia's popularity is dropping, but can the new 2024 Triton ute and hybrid Outlander halt its downward trajectory?

The Triton ute is Mitsubishi’s biggest seller, and it is currently in the midst of a new-model changeover.

This time last year, Mitsubishi was riding on a sales high and sitting pretty as the third most-popular brand in Australia behind the dominant Toyota and Mazda.

In fact, Mitsubishi was outpacing even Hyundai, Kia and Ford, but so far this year with 39,953 sales it has struggled to match its successes in 2022, and is currently sixth on the sales charts just ahead of MG (37,407) and Tesla (32,820).

For the full 2022 calendar year, Mitsubishi ended up in fourth place with 76,991 total sales, just behind Kia’s 78,330 tally.

So, what happened?

Looking at Mitsubishi’s sales charts, all its models barring the Eclipse Cross and Outlander SUVs are experiencing double-digit percentage declines.

The model having the biggest impact however, is the Triton ute, which is down a significant 47.4 per cent down this year compared to last – 10,976 sales so far in 2023 versus 20,886 sales over the same period in 2022.

But this noticeable drop in interest is easily explained as a new-generation Triton was revealed in July, with Mitsubishi readying its Australian launch in early 2024.

The existing Triton is simply in runout, and many potential buyers could be waiting for the upgraded to model to arrive.

However, Ford and Isuzu have also managed to secure more supply of its Ranger and D-Max models, meaning buyers could be lured into fresher rivals with shortening wait times.

No doubt affordable models from the likes of GWM, LDV and SsangYong are also having an impact, with the Ute, T60 Max and Musso all experiencing double-digit growth this year.

But it’s not just the Triton bleeding sales, as the Pajero Sport is also so far this year down 54.3 per cent to 2827 sales.

Sharing the same mechanical underpinnings as the Triton means we can expect a new-generation Pajero Sport soon, but it might not surface until 2025, leaving Mitsubishi to field an ageing off-road SUV against more modern competitors like the Ford Everest, Isuzu MU-X and upcoming Toyota Prado.

As for the ASX, again age likely plays a factor, as the current model is in its 13th year of production – albeit with various facelifts and updates along the way.

Sales for the once market-leading ASX are down 27 per cent this year to 5696, and trail the GWM Haval Jolion (7353), refreshed Hyundai Kona (6260), Kia Seltos (7304), Mazda CX-30 (8376) and MG ZS (20,624).

However, the segment-sharing Eclipse Cross is starting to find its footing, notching 5207 sales to the end of August, a modest 9.7 per cent uptick compared to last year.

Similarly, the Outlander is finding more homes this year than last, with sales up 25 per cent to 15,150 thanks to improved supply of plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) variants.

More stock is expected for the Outlander PHEV before year’s end too, which could see the Mitsubishi mid-size SUV take out silver in the hotly-contested segment behind the Toyota RAV4 (19,590 sales YTD) and ahead of the Mazda CX-5 (15,007), Hyundai Tucson (14,495) and Subaru Forester (10,699).

The rest of Mitsubishi Australia’s line-up has now been culled, with the Express van, Mirage light car and Pajero off-roader contributing just 27, one and 70 units respectively so far this year, with stock of all three exhausted.

This puts Mitsubishi Australia in a precarious situation as it awaits crucial new-generation products, but supply is also influencing the bottom line, according to a spokesperson.

“In 2022 Mitsubishi enjoyed a strong sales year, especially off the back of the new-generation Outlander and PHEV. Triton supply also underpinned that throughout the year, and other vehicles such as Pajero Sport and ASX had decent supply,” they said.

“For 2023, we have been impacted – like many others – by shipping delays as a result of quarantine backlogs. Fortunately, our vehicles weren’t impacted by this, however ships containing our vehicles were.

“We have pivoted to shipping deliveries at less congested ports, and providing inland transport to ensure customer vehicles are delivered in as timely a manner as possible.

“This is combined with the continued aftermath of parts supply constraints in manufacturing.”

However, the brand is also confident it will regain its footing in the future, despite increasing competition from the new brands.

“In terms of Australian market demand, we continue to sell all the ASX we can supply, and the same can be said of Pajero Sport. Outlander and Eclipse Cross are less impacted and this is demonstrated by their results,” the spokesperson said.

“More broadly, the market is seeing unprecedented competition with a raft of new marques and models available in Australia.

“It is healthy for the market to have such competition and we are confident our upcoming new models will continue to attract strong demand, while we continue working to ease supply constraints.”