Mitsubishi Australia this week says the pitiful one-star crash rating smacked in the face of the company's corporate message of safety. “Safety is one of our core messages,” says Mitsubishi Australia spokesperson Caitlin Beale. “We can't bring in a one-star vehicle so our decision for Australia is not to import anymore.”
Ms Beale says dealers will sell stock of which she estimates only “a handful” remain. Mitsubishi will continue to manufacture the Express in Japan for its domestic market plus some export markets.
Ms Beale says there is no replacement for the Express “at the moment”. No similar van exists in Mitsubishi's portfolio though the company has an alliance with PSA Peugeot Citroen.
The Express was once one of the nation's most popular vans but competition from Korea's Hyundai iLoad and perennial Toyota Hiace, plus new entrants from Europe, has slashed sales.
It sold 622 last year compared with 6387 Hiaces. Part of the van's popularity was its price. At $26,590 it is $6000 cheaper than the equivalent Hiace.
The Express' success also has been slurried by its unsafe one-star crash rating - the lowest of any crash-tested vehicle sold in Australia.
Commercial vehicles are not required to be crash tested so many are sold without buyers knowing how they fare in a crash. It is a loophole exploited by manufacturers of some Chinese vans and utes.
News of the impending death of the Express come as Mercedes-Benz freezes plans to import the compact Citan van. In European crash tests, the Citan scored only a three-star rating. Mercedes-Benz Australia spokesman David McCarthy says “at the moment, I can't comment”.
The Citan, which was expected to be launched here later this year, is based heavily on the Renault Kangoo van which, astoundingly, scored four stars out of the possible five.