Mitsubishi Lancer Last Ditch CNG Sales Promotion
The last time I posed a story on the Mitsubishi Lancer was over a year ago. Back then the Lancer was already an old and tired platform, screaming out to be replaced.
The Honda Civic, Toyota Altis, Chevrolet Optra, Mazda3, and Ford Focus, all make the Lancer a very poor looking option in this segment of the market.
Mitsubishi have been using a combination of keen pricing, and a 5-year-warranty period to extend the shelf-life of the Lancer, well beyond it's actual sell-by-date.
Most recently, Mitsubishi Thailand has started to offer a CNG version of the Lancer at no extra cost to the consumer. This sounds like a good deal, and with prices starting at THB 694,000, this could actually be considered good value for a 1.6 litre Lancer. Good, if you don't mind driving around in 9-year-old technology.
Despite numerous facelifts and minor updates, the basic underpinnings and design of the Thai Lancer are almost a decade old. Not only that, but the all-new model has also been out and about for well over a year in most other markets, including the US, and two potential export markets (from a Thai prospective), Singapore and Australia.
I spoke to two separate Mitsubishi sales representatives regarding the launch of the new Lancer model in Thailand, and got two separate answers. One suggested that the new Lancer should be in Thailand as early as February 2009. The other, with a perfect poker-face, told me that I was already looking at the new lancer, that the engine had just been updated, and that there wouldn't be a new model for a long time!
Bare in mind that the "engine update" he is talking about is merely to do with Mitsubishi slapping a E20 sticker on the car. They might have changed a few elements of the fuel system, but nothing to warrant a suggestion that it is a new engine.
CNG with a warranty
The good news is that the Mitsubishi Lancer will still carry a full 5-year 150,000 km warranty, even on the CNG model. But although this is competitive, it is possible that the harmful effects of CNG usage wouldn't be apparent in the first 150,000 km anyway. Remember though that Hyundai shortened its 5-year warranty to 3-years for their factory fitted CNG model, the Sonata.
But although it seemed to me that this indicated a sense of confidence from Mitsubishi, the Mitsubishi sales representative (the same one who told me that there wouldn't be a new Lancer for ages), suggested that the engines weren't designed for CNG use, and offered his advise that it wasn't a good idea.
So is it really free?
If you are still interested in buying a Lancer, then there are some things that you should be aware of. How free this CNG upgrade is actually depends on how you define free. The price of the Lancer doesn't go up if you opt for the CNG, but it does go down if you choose the extra boot space! The non-CNG Lancer enjoys discounts of up to THB 70,000.
Given the discounting, the limited model range available (Mitsubishi dropped the 2.0 litre engine a while back), and the conflicting stories, I would suggest that the new Lancer is a good bet for an early 2009 launch. By all accounts the new Lancer is a very good car, and more than an equal for the Altis and City. Mitsubishi are missing out on a real opportunity to win back market share, while they are busy launching less important models like the Pajero and Pajero Sport.
Come on Mitsubishi Motors Thailand! Bring on the 2008 Lancer!!
Here are three good reasons to wait: