Delivery vans have been seeing record sales and yet Mitsubishi is withdrawing from the segment.
The Japanese brand has confirmed that “after assessing current global business and supply conditions”, it’s withdrawing its French-built Express – a rebadged Renault Trafic – from the local line-up this year.
May will be the final production month for short-wheelbase Express models, while long-wheelbase models have already wrapped up production due to “supply and component-related issues”.
Mitsubishi expects supply of LWB models will be exhausted by mid-year, while final customer deliveries of the SWB models are expected by the end of 2022.
The company says it has ensured “solid stocks” of SWB Express due to a “healthy” production allocation, which should help tide the model over until the end of the year.
The current Express was only launched in Australia in July 2020, resurrecting a nameplate last seen here in 2013.
By rebadging the Trafic, another product of the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance, Mitsubishi Australia was finally able to offer a van once again.
But now, less than two years after its launch, Mitsubishi has pulled the plug on the model.
It got off to a rocky start in Australia, with safety authority ANCAP in early 2021 giving it its first zero-star safety rating.
This degree of failure was down to the absence of active safety assist features now common in vans, such as autonomous emergency braking (AEB), lane-keep assist, and blind-spot monitoring.
The crash tester awarded the Express just seven per cent in the ‘safety assist’ section.
ANCAP said such a low score in this section meant the Mitsubishi was unable to qualify for even a single star irrespective of the van’s performance in other areas.
The rating came under fire from both Mitsubishi and the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI), as the related Trafic technically had a three-star rating from Euro NCAP, albeit based on testing conducted on the people mover variant not sold here.
Said testing was also conducted in 2015. Subsequently, ANCAP has harmonised its ratings with Euro NCAP, however older scores aren’t carried over. That explains why the Trafic remains unrated in Australia.
The Express was tested under the stricter 2020-22 ANCAP testing protocols, and ANCAP justified testing it because it was technically a new model, even if it was simply a rebadge of an older product.
Active safety omissions aside, it scored 55 per cent for adult occupant protection and 40 per cent for vulnerable road-user protection, placing it in the middling ‘marginal’ category for physical impact protection.
Year-to-date, Mitsubishi has sold 387 Express vans, up 70.5 per cent. While some organisations won’t buy vehicles for their fleets that lack a five-star ANCAP rating, the Express’ zero-star ANCAP rating hasn’t seemed to blight its sales all that much.
A best-in-class 10-year warranty, along with 10 years of capped-price servicing, has likely also proved a tantalising carrot for buyers.
While some rivals like the Toyota HiAce and Ford Transit Custom offer a comprehensive slate of active safety and driver assist features, the Express isn’t alone in this segment in having so-so safety credentials.
The LDV V80 has a three-star ANCAP rating from 2013, while its newer G10 stablemate has a three-star rating from 2015. Neither is available with any active safety technology like autonomous emergency braking.
- 2022 Mitsubishi Express GLX SWB manual: $39,040
- 2022 Mitsubishi Express GLX LWB manual: $41,040
- 2022 Mitsubishi Express GLX SWB auto: $44,040
- 2022 Mitsubishi Express GLX LWB auto: $46,040
- 2022 Mitsubishi Express GLX+ LWB auto: $46,540
All prices exclude on-road costs.