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The Mercury Cars Guide : October 10th 2009
6--- Classifieds 62 300 400 • carsguide.com.au Saturday, October 10, 2009 Exclusive electric car is on borrowed time Australian motorists will have some waiting to do before they can sit behind the wheel of Mitsubishi's iMiev, but the Japanese car manufacturer will ''loan'' us an early glimpse. Kevin Hepworth reports WATCH THIS SPACE: The Mitsubishi iMiev electric car. MITSUBISHI will place its iMiev elec- tric car with high profile companies and government agencies on a ''loan'' basis when the emission- free city cars start arriving early next year. Mitsubishi Australia Presi- dent and CEO Robert McEniry says that while numbers of the iMiev will initially be heavily restricted and expensive, the company has scheduled a roll- out that will start with loans to companies and governments and move to leasing arrangements by the end of next year. ''We have identified some high-profile companies and au- thorities that are keen to utilise the electric technology and for that high visibility market the cars will initially be loaned for short terms but by the end of the year we would expect to have a number out on lease arrange- ments,'' McEniry says. McEniry says that as produc- tion increases and unit costs fall there will be greater and greater opportunities for people to ac- cess the iMiev. ''There is no doubt that within a relatively short time it will become far more affordable for the average private buyers. ''We are continuing our delib- erations with our parent com- pany to make sure we grab some. ''They are very, very keen to support us and while it may be very difficult to get them into Australia this year to meet my own schedule, at the very latest it will be the first quarter of next year and then we will be part of the production schedule from then on. ''I guess one of our stated objectives was to be the first to be in Australia with an electric car and I think we will achieve that.'' On a more immediate front McEniry is bullish about Austra- lia's new car sales fighting back as the bite of the global financial crisis begins to ease and consum- er confidence grows. While conceding that it may be a while before the record one million market numbers of the past couple of years are revis- ited, McEniry says that early 2009 predictions of an 800,000 year are going to prove pessimis- tic. ''At the beginning of the year you probably heard us talking about 820,00 annualised for the first half of the year and 850,000 annualised for the second half of the year,'' McEniry says. ''Our forecast of the market now is around 900,000 and our own sales will be a lot closer to last year's 59,000 than we were predicting.'' Such has been Mit- subishi's financial revival since closing its production facilities in Australia and moving to an importer status, McEniry be- lieves the company would be an attractive target for a takeover if it were publicly listed. ''We have cash in the bank, a strong business with growth and good assets. ''Yes --- we would be a very attractive takeover target right now. ''We have done a lot of work in restructuring the company and eliminating costs, rationalising our product lines in terms of product lines and the products themselves. ''Inventories have been re- duced significantly, the com- pany itself is becoming right- sized and we are instigating a very customer-centric culture. ''We are getting improved profitability, improved liquidity and improved net worth month on month. ''So we are really starting to strengthen. ''Importantly for us, when we look at our product portfolio our products are all in the growth segments of the market and the products we will be introducing over the next 12 months or so just reinforce our products in the growth segment.'' The Challenger SUV will be rushed into the market in No- vember so dealers can take advantage of the government's 50 per cent incentive bonus which expires at the end of December. And in a lightly-veiled refer- ence to the demise of the com- pany's ill-starred 380 large sedan, McEniry said that part of the company's success came from the segments they were not competing in. ''We consider ourselves some- what fortunate that we are not in the declining segments any more,'' McEniry says.
September 26th 2009
October 17th 2009