Mitsubishi has officially pulled out of the Chinese market, with the automaker seemingly unable to keep up with the competition. China's increasing demand for electric vehicles, and Mitsubishi's reluctance to make them, is believed to have been a key factor in the decision.
For a long period, Mitsubishi was very popular in China. Back in 2019, the automaker sold 134,500 vehicles and had several upcoming models planned - the majority of which were plug-in hybrids. Sales then fell steeply. In 2022 the Japanese marque only sold 34,500 units in China as demand for fully electric vehicles surged.
Mitsubishi's sole all-electric offering, the Airtrek EV (above) was seemingly too little too late. Substantially more expensive than rivals, only 515 Airtrek EVs were sold last year.
Other Japanese manufacturers are also struggling in China. Nissan, Honda, and Mazda have all seen sales decrease in the past few years. And while Toyota remains a major player in the Chinese market, in 2022 sales fell for the first time in 10 years.
Undoubtedly, Japanese manufacturers need to produce more EVs and move away from hybrids if they want to stay competitive in China. Mitsubishi serves as a great example of what can happen if automakers become complacent. And it's no secret that the aforementioned Japanese firms have been falling behind when it comes to electrification. Even Nissan has seen a drastic loss in EV market share, despite once being viewed as a pioneer in the space through the Leaf.
It will be interesting to see what the future holds for Mitsubishi in other markets. Sales are actually up in the US, largely thanks to the launch of the new Outlander. Mitsubishi's EV plans are somewhat underwhelming when compared with most other mainstream manufacturers. The automaker is planning four new EVs by 2035 and wants all sales to be electric or hybrid by that date.