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60 is the new 40

60 is the new 40

Mikko David

Mitsubishi is probably one of a handful of passenger car brands in the country that doesn’t need an introduction. With its sales numbers just ranking second to Toyota, it is probably at the prime of its life in the country.

As the brand commemorates six decades of operations in the Philippines this year, one would expect the milestone to be celebrated with pomp and circumstance. How many car brands can say they’ve been with Filipinos through thick and thin for 60 years?

As the only car company that hasn’t left the Philippines since it started operations, Mitsubishi can lay claim to the trust it has built and nurtured over the last 60 years. “Our commitment to the Philippines will remain unchanged for the future, and we will continue to contribute to the country through local manufacturing and providing attractive models to our valued customers,” said Mitsubishi Motors Corporation president and CEO, Mr. Takao Kato during his visit to the Philippines back in February. When the brand’s top man drops by the Philippines, it gives you an insight into how important our growing automotive market is to them.

However, since this event, it has been a quiet first half for the storied Japanese brand. Only the updated Mitsubishi Xpander Cross was introduced at the start of the year. And at the Manila International Auto Show, it brought back the hands of time when it showcased a pristine box-type Lancer on the car show floor.

But Mitsubishi doesn’t have to reflect on the past to celebrate its brand equity constantly. In fact, it is already looking to the future as it forges ahead with its plans to enhance its presence in ASEAN.

On display this weekend, from June 16 to 18, 2023, at the Newport World Resorts in Pasay City, is a peek into the brand’s future. The Mitsubishi XFC Concept is Mitsubishi’s foray into the hotly contested subcompact crossover category. It will go up against the slew of Chinese brand B-segment crossovers, such as: The Geely Coolray, Chery Tiggo 5, MG ZS, Jetour Dashing, and even Ford’s all-new Territory, the Honda BR-V, the Nissan Kicks, and Toyota’s newly unveiled Yaris Cross.

It’s a crowded category. But Mitsubishi is banking on a fresh, smooth, yet muscular design, high-tech features, and tailored-for-ASEAN specifications, such as its supposed flood-friendly ground clearance and Wet driving mode, to tug at the heartstrings and open the wallets of the Filipino car buyer.

Reports also suggest that the final production version of the XFC Concept will closely resemble the one on display. If so, it should be a stunning offering from the Japanese brand once it launches in Indonesia this coming August.

Speaking of August, the company is also gearing up its plans to celebrate its 60th Anniversary that month. So, expect Mitsubishi to wax nostalgic about its heritage models while at the same time putting the spotlight on the future of its nameplates as it attempts to solidify its standing in the consciousness of the Filipino.

But even before that, in July, the next-generation Mitsubishi Strada, or Triton as it is known in ASEAN, will finally break cover in Bangkok, Thailand. Touted as a global product, the Triton (let’s use this name for consistency) will spearhead the new products Mitsubishi will launch in ASEAN this year. And as a member of the Nissan-Renault-Mitsubishi Alliance, the all-new pickup might also give us clues as to what the next Nissan Navara will bring.

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And who can forget the very popular Mitsubishi Xpander, which Filipinos have come to love dearly? As the brand’s bestselling model in the Philippines, the seven-seater MPV will be updated to run with a hybrid powertrain later this year. And to add icing to the cake, another electrified tworow SUV is in the works by next year.

Finally, Mitsubishi could pull a surprise in the electrified front as what seems to be a hatchback with electrification tech, presumably a hybrid, is said to be arriving in the region.

Mitsubishi unveiled the all-new Colt as a rebadged Renault Clio just last week. And if the brand sticks to its original three-year product rollout, which shows a draped hatchback model coming nearer 2024, we may see the Colt come back on this side of the world as a snazzy City and Vios-fighting hatchback.

It looks like it will be a busy next few months for Mitsubishi Motors Philippines Corporation.