Mitsubishi’s struggle in China culminated with the suspension in March of its plants in the country. Image Credit: Reuters

Japan’s Mitsubishi Motors will end production in China, the company said Tuesday, after failing to keep pace with the local market’s rapid shift to electric vehicles.

The automaker said its sales had slumped and it would restructure its joint venture with Guangzhou Automobile Group, recording a 24.3 billion yen ($162 million) “extraordinary loss” for the financial year ending March 2024.

“Local production of Mitsubishi brand vehicles in China will be terminated,” the company said in a statement released Tuesday.

Guangzhou Automobile Group will wholly acquire the joint venture, and use production capacity for its electric vehicle brand Aion, the statement added.

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EVs made up 20 per cent of new cars sold in China last year, compared with around 15 per cent in western Europe and 5.3 per cent in the US, according to a PwC study.

Shift to EVs

The auto industry in Japan still largely favours hybrid cars over EVs.

In China, “the shift to electric vehicles is accelerating faster than expected, and consumers are rapidly undergoing significant changes in their brand and segment choices”, Mitsubishi said.

The firm said it had attempted to regain momentum in China by releasing a new model last year, but it “continued to fall short” of its target.

Mitsubishi’s struggle in China culminated with the suspension in March of its plants in the country, with the board of directors on Tuesday deciding to give up on resumption and “fundamentally review our China strategy”.

200 million

Amount in euros that Mitsubishi Motors will invest in Ampere, the electric vehicle unit of its French partner Renault.

It said the investment would “further improve its EV development technology and to expand its line-up of EV”.

Last year, a record 59,000 new EVs were sold in Japan, a three-fold increase from the year before, but EVs made up less than two per cent of all car sales in the country.