What's so important about a new Mitsubishi Motors factory in Thailand? The new plant will be charged with building the subcompact hatchback previewed here, which will be sold in North America by 2013.
The company announced a number of new ventures in Thailand at a press conference earlier this week, but the biggest piece of news from the event ironically surrounds a new small car. The vehicle, currently referred to as the Global Small, gives Mitsubishi a new B-segment offering it can tailor to each market. For emerging markets, content can be scaled back to allow it to be priced competitively against the likes of the Nissan Micra, to say nothing of Honda's Fit and Brio models.
For developed markets, however, Mitsubishi apparently plans on being able to dress up the car to appeal to buyers with more sophisticated tastes. We wouldn't be too surprised if the North American-spec car, which will serve as Mitsubishi's entry-level offering here in the U.S., receives a slightly more upscale interior, a trick that was also applied to the Americanized form of the company's electric I.
Even so, this dualistic nature poses some product planning headaches. A Mitsubishi spokesman tells us attempting to bridge both markets with a single product may create a number of headaches in terms of pricing and equipment packages, but also noted it's far too early to speculate as to what we'll receive here.
Details on either the U.S.-spec of the foreign Global Small model, however, are still scarce. Thai models will receive both 1.0- and 1.2-liter engines, although Mitsubishi hasn't announced any further details (the company does, however, have a number of I-3 and I-4 engines that fit this description). U.S.-spec cars, however, could potentially receive a larger engine offering, allowing it to compete against the Fit and Ford's Fiesta, which are fitted with 1.5- and 1.8-liter I-4s, respectively.
Production of the Global Small is expected to commence in March of 2012, and Mitsubishi will likely orchestrate a staggered introduction across the globe. A spokesman says the car is due in the U.S. by 2013, but noted things are "on track" for the car to possibly arrive Stateside even sooner.