Before this month ends, it’s expected that the supply contract between Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and Mitsubishi Motors will already be finalized. The two companies are currently finalizing the details of their deal in which the Japanese company will provide Fiat with a version of its new Thai-built L200 midsize pickup, according to a Mitsubishi executive.
Fiat is planning to offer this pickup in markets where there’s rising demand. These include Europe and Latin America. When interviewed by Automotive News Europe, Mitsubishi global pickup chief Koichi Namiki said that Fiat benefits as Mitsubishi is able to supplement its lineup while production is done in Thailand.
He explained that from the mechanical aspect, this pickup truck will be “100% Mitsubishi” but it will be differentiated when it comes to design and other visible features. Last year, the Japanese automaker began to produce its redesigned L200 (which also carries the name Triton) in Laem Chabang. It seeks to boost worldwide sales of the new-generation L200 to 200,000 units annually.
The old model recorded sales of 130,000 units. Europe is the second-biggest region for the pickup, making up 10% of the sales of the previous L200. At the top is the ASEAN market, including Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam. The L200 will not be available in the U.S., Canada and Japan.
It’s likely that Fiat Chrysler will begin sales of the pickup next year under the Fiat Professional light commercial vehicle brand. As part of Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne’s plan for its European business to become consistently profitable, the company is concentrating on widening the lineup of Fiat Professional.
The present lineup is inclusive of the front-wheel-drive-only Strada, a unibody small pickup aseembled in Brazil and offered in Europe and Latin America. JATO Dynamics said that last year, the Strada ranked as the brand’s No. 1-selling pickup in Europe. It came in 9th overall even with a volume of only 1,399 units.
Last year’s top 5-selling pickups in Europe are the following: (1) Toyota Hilux (with 24,040 units), (2) Ford Ranger (with 22,019), (3) Volkswagen Amarok (with 16,007), (4) Nissan Navara (with 13,451), and (5) L200 (with 13,271). There’s an upward trend for the overall segment.
Last year, pickup sales increased by 5% to 114,892 units compared with 2013. When Mercedes-Benz revealed last March that it aims to launch a midsize pickup, it said that the motivation was to capitalize on the sustained growth in the pickup segment in the Europe and Latin American markets.