Hindustan Motors Financial Corporation Limited (HMFCL) is considering a portfolio expansion of its Japanese partner, Mitsubishi. Two new cars are said to be under consideration, the Attrage compact sedan and the Delica MPV. Currently, the only vehicle that the Hindustan Motors-Mitsubishi combine sells in India is the Pajero Sport SUV, which is available in manual and automatic variants. The automaking combine not just needs new vehicles to remain relevant in India, but also needs a larger dealership footprint across the country. The move to consider bringing the Attrage and the Delica to India is meant to sort out issue number one.
Meanwhile, this isn’t the first time that Hindustan Motors-Mitsubishi have considered the Attrage for India. In fact, the Mirage hatchback, on which the Attrage is based upon was also under active consideration for India. Both cars will allow Mitsubishi to once again become market player in the country, a status that the brand lost after the likes of the Lancer and Cedia sedans were discontinued. The compact sedan is touted to arrive here in 2016-17. Considering the segment that the car will operate in, the compact sedan’s local manufacture with extensive localization to boot is the recipe that HMFCL-Mitsubishi needs to seriously evaluate.
However, the official stance on this issue is quite at odds with this point. Uttam Bose, the Managing Director of HMFCL has gone on record to state that the car would be CKD assembled in India, with the kits arriving from Thailand. While this move would leverage the Indo-Thai Free Trade Agreement, it remains to be seen if the automaker can actually do a Isuzu and price the Attrage competitively. Another development surrounding the car involves a turbo diesel power. The Mitsubishi compact sedan sold globally is available only with petrol engines, and adding a diesel motor to the equation will be a move specific to India.
What this also indicates is that HMFCL-Mitsubishi are looking at big volumes for the car, one that justifies the investments required for an India-specific powertrain. Details of the turbo diesel motor for the Attrage remains unknown for now, even as a 1.5 liter displacement cap is a given, considering the sub-4 meter positioning of the compact sedan. Will Mitsubishi go with the 1.5 liter K9K turbo diesel motor, sourced from Renault-Nissan? This possibility remains ripe considering the fact that Mitsubishi is in talks with Nissan to source and badge engineer a compact sedan.
Coming to the other big product under consideration, the Delica, this MPV currently operates in South East Asian countries such as Thailand and Indonesia. The Delica is a Toyota Innova competitor, and is available with petrol and diesel motors. For the Indian car market, the 5th generation Delica – in serial production from 2007 – is likely to be launched through the completely knocked down (CKD) assembly route. The 2.2 liter turbocharged diesel engine makes 145 Bhp-360 Nm and drives the front wheels by means of a CVT automatic gearbox. The Delica uses a monocoque chassis and is based on Mitsubishi’s GS (Project Global) platform that is shares with the current-generation Lancer.
CKD assembly of the Delica at HMFCL’s Tiruvottiyur factory, off Chennai, with a localization level of about 40 %, is expected to result in a price tag of about 15 lakh rupees for the MPV. The Delica is in its fifth generation globally, with the first generation version making its debut way back in 1968. The MPV is likely to arrive into India in about three years time, making for a 2018 launch time frame. As next-generation Toyota Innova is expected to grow in size and move upwards in terms of price positioning, a Delica at about 15 lakh rupees may not be hard sell after all, or so will Mitsubishi hope.