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Old 05-14-2008, 12:22 PM   #15
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Mitsubishi to make new Lancer with Southeast

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May 14, 2008 - Mitsubishi is counting on the redesigned Lancer to boost its flat sales in China.

The imported new generation of Lancer Evolution sedan will go on sale in China this autumn. Meanwhile, two more versions of the redesigned Lancer -- a family car and a sporty model -- will be assembled at its joint venture, Southeast (Fujian) Motors Corp. in Fujian next year.

Both versions will be fitted with 1.8-liter and 2.0-liter engines imported from Mitsubishi's facilities in Japan. The transmissions will also be imported from Japan.

The initial localization rate of the new Lancer will be around 50 percent, says Alan Yih, deputy general director of the company's marketing department.

Production of the two sedans is expected to start in the second half of 2009, and a hatchback version will be available in the first half of 2010.

Yih says it's too early to comment on capacity and sales of the new Lancer.

He says whether Southeast will continue to manufacture the previous generation of the Lancer after production the new Lancer starts is still under discussion.

Some international automakers sell two generations of the same models in China at the same time. For instance, while keeping the previous Elantra in the market, Beijing Hyundai Motor Co. launched the new Elantra sedan in April.

In addition to the redesigned Lancer, a Mitsubishi crossover with 2.0-liter engine produced by Southeast will hit the China market in the second half of 2008.

At the Beijing auto show in April, Ling Yuzhang, chairman of Southeast Motors, says Southeast will introduce at least one international brand model each year over the next few years.

Besides the Mitsubishi Lancer and Galant sedans, Southwest also assembles the Chrysler Grand Voyager and Dodge Caravan for Chrysler LLC under a licensing agreement with the American automaker.

Southeast is 25 percent owned by Mitsubishi. It now produces the previous Lancer sedan, the Soveran wagon and the Galant sedan under the Mitsubishi brand. Sales of the three models in 2007 were 36,734 units.

Ling says Mitsubishi will allow Southeast to assemble more of its models customized for the China market. To date, Southeast only assembles Mitsubishi-badged models that have already been launched in the United Stated and Europe.

From:Automotive News China
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