After much one and off speculation, Mitsubishi Motors have finally confirmed that a sedan derivative model of its Mirage B-hatchback will join Mitsubishi's line of eco-cars in Thailand.
The Mirage sedan will go enter production sometime between June or July 2013 in Thailand. This revealed by Mitsubishi Motors Corporation's president Osamu Masuko during the launch of the Mirage this morning.
However, Masuko added that the decision to introduce the Mirage sedan in Malaysia is still undecided, adding that that will be depend on the decision of Mitsubishi Motors Malaysia's chief executive officer Tetsuya Oda.
Mitsubishi did not reveal further details about the Mirage sedan but it will most likely share the Mirage hatchback's powertrain combo of a 3A92 1.2-litre engine paired to either a 5-speed manual or a CVT.
When asked about whether a larger capacity engine is in the plan, Ryujiro Kobashi, Mitsubishi Motors Corporation's vice corporate general manager for Asia and ASEAN office, product projects and strategies group headquarters explained that the current 1.2-litre engine is a good fit for Mirage's light weight body.
He also added that in countries like Japan and Europe, there is also a smaller 1-litre engine and considering the global trend towards downsized engine (while maintaining body size), the 1.2-litre engine offers sufficient performance.
"If there is market demand in the future, we can consider adding features like hybrid drive and direct injection," said Kobashi.
By 2013, Mitsubishi Motors will more than double its production capacity in Thailand. In 2011, Mitsubishi's two production plants in Thailand's Laem Chabang Industrial complex has a combined capacity of 220,000 units per year producing the Triton, Pajero Sport and Lancer EX.
A third plant was completed in April 2012, producing the Mirage. With the third plant running at full capacity next year, total production capacity will increase to 460,000 units per year.
Among the three Japanese car makers with eco-car models in their line-up, only Nissan offers the option of a larger 1.5-litre engine for Almera sedans sold outside of Thailand. The Honda Brio and its sedan derivative model Brio Amaze is also powered by a 1.2-litre engine.
Eco-car is a special vehicle taxation bracket created by the Thailand Board of Investment (BoI). Mooted in 2007, Thailand BoI offers qualified car makers eight years exemption from corporate income tax and duty free importation of machinery. The Thai Ministry of Finance provides a lower 17% excise tax rate on eco-cars that have engines smaller than 1,300cc for petrol engines and 1,400cc for diesel engines (current excise tax rate is between 30%- over 50% for normal passenger cars).
Requirements for eco-car status in Thailand :
- Fuel economy of 5-litres per 100 km (20 km per litre) under the European ECE R101 combined cycle (similar to NEDC).
- Complies to Euro 4 and above emission standard.
- Total investment exceeding THB 5 billion.
- Annual production volume exceeding 100,000 units within five years after start of operations.
To date, there are six eco-car models on sale in Thailand - Nissan March, Nissan Almera, Suzuki Swift, Honda Brio, Mitsubishi Mirage. The Honda Brio Amaze will be launching in December 2012.