Mitsubishi Motors has stopped shipments of its i-MiEV electric vehicle to French carmaker PSA Peugeot Citroën. A spokesman for PSA said that the halt was temporary and put in place to “adjust stocks”. The French carmaker is now believed to have more than 4,400 of the vehicles held in unsold inventory.
The vehicles are shipped as finished vehicle from Mitsubishi’s facility in Mizushima, Japan and are sold in Europe as the iOn Peugeot and Citroën C-Zero. There were 6,000 orders for them between December 2010 and December 2011 according to PSA, with around a further 600 sold this year, but Mitsubishi has assembled almost 11,000 of the vehicles for the French carmaker, leaving it with excess stock.
The initial agreement was for Mitsubishi to supply 100,000 of the vehicles, while it has produced 28,000 i-MiEVs in Japan since 2009.
One reason for the sluggish sales could be the high retail price of the vehicles, which start at around €30,000 ($37,000). The other, according to a recent report in The Nikkei, is the general slump in European sales that has led the carmaker to review its tie-up with PSA as it considers the impact on its own business. This calls into question how temporary the stop in Mitsubishi’s supply to PSA really is.
According to the report, it is not just Mitsubishi that is halting existing supply arrangements. Mazda and Isuzu are also said to be calling off joint development projects and procurement deals with partners in Europe as a result of the region’s debt problems. As well as Mitsubishi’s halt in EV supply to PSA, Mazda will switch from using small diesel engines from the French carmaker and make its own when the vehicles go through the next remodelling.
Isuzu is also reported to be halting development of a next-generation diesel engine with Opel and questions are being asked about the future of the joint venture the companies have in Tychy, Poland, although this is unconfirmed.
A spokesman for Opel said that the company had already announced it was replacing the core of its current engine portfolio with a new range of petrol and diesel versions from 2013.
“As planned, a new diesel engine family will replace the 1.7 diesel out of the GM/Isuzu joint venture in Poland,” he said. “No further decisions have been taken concerning the joint venture with Isuzu, i.e. the plant in Tychy.”
He went onto say that this was part of a major new powertrain offensive at Opel that will see the company invests billions of euros up to 2016, including the launch of three new engine families over the next 18 months.