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Ground-breaking I-Miev represents a change in approach from manufacturer By Debbie Woodhink of Mitsubishi and the first vehicles that come to mind may be the high-performance Evo or heavy-duty Shogun. The L200 pick-up truck might also crop up.But now the brand is creating a new image, where the environment is placed firmly at the top of the agenda.Given that its recent heritage is in authentic off-road vehicles and rally-inspired sports saloons, Mitsubishi could have its work cut out in persuading potential customers it does something else.Over the past few years it has embarked on a range of initiatives to lower the emissions of its range - including launching a ClearTec version of its Colt which, at launch in 2009, was the only sub-120g/km petrol supermini on the market.Earlier this year it launched the I-Miev - the first elec-tric car from a mainstream manufacturer to hit the market. And Mitsubishi is also improving emissions and fuel consumption throughout its range."It's quite a sea change for us" says Kate Woodward, head of corporate, fleet and used car operations. "Working to reduce CO2 emissions is a key initiative."Being the first to market with an electric vehicle has helped cement Mitsubishi's environmental ethos."We are small players in the UK market and it is unusual for us to be first to market with something as radical as an electric vehicle," says Lance Bradley, managing director at Mitsubishi UK.While the Fleet Van award-winning L200 has been Mitsubishi's best-selling model in the UK in recent years, the manufacturer is hopeful the distinctive I-Miev will begin to rival the pick-up for recognition as interest in electric cars grows.With limited range and a need to access charging points, electric vehicles such as the I-Miev have draw-backs for many companies and drivers, although it is well-suited to some low-mileage fleets with access to charging points.The I-Miev has enjoyed some success, especially within the public sector with Thames Valley police, Carmarthenshire County Council and the Environment Agency all taking deliveries.In April this year, Mitsubishi signed an agreement with rental company Hertz to add the I-Miev to its rental fleet and that of car sharing club Connect by Hertz. Mitsubishi has also been granted a place on the Buying Solutions framework agreement to supply vehicles for public services.Fleet market growth"It has been a good couple of years for us in fleet. We are moving really quickly in the market ready for 2013," said Woodward.Although it might have a relatively low profile, Mitsubishi has witnessed healthy growth early in 2011. Green at the heart of Mitsubishi's futureTIt also continues to expand its network of UK dealers, appointing a total of 17 new dealers in 2010 and a further six so far in 2011, with several other new dealer pros-pects waiting to take on the franchise.Latest SMMT figures show that, up to the end of July, Mitsubishi sold 2,024 vehicles into fleet this year - 28.6% more than for the same period in 2010.But Woodward said market share growth is not a key part of Mitsubishi's strategy over the coming years. "We currently hold a 2% fleet market share and we have no intentions of trying to do anything other than that," she says. "We just make it our business to be good at what we do and deliver the service which makes customers stay. Although we are a small player, we do well in the specialist market. We stand out by offering excellent service."Excellent Service ethosAs a small player, Woodward believes Mitsubishi can make its biggest impression through superior service and customer support.With this in mind, Mitsubishi has developed a new Excellent Service programme for all head office and franchised dealer staff in the UK, outlining its customer service ethos and how to deliver it. To ensure that its dealer network continually delivers the desired level of service, Mitsubishi is assessing its dealers based on real-time feedback from customers. As soon as the feedback is in, customer scores are 8 September 2011 fleetnews.co.uk/SME FactfileHead of corporate fleet and used car operations Kate WoodwardTime in role two yearsTotal 2010 sales 19,0762010 fleet sales 6,020 (cars 3,169, vans 2,851) Best-selling model in fleet L200 Double CabNumber of dealers 114

In the spotlight Mitsubishi fleetnews.co.uk/SME September 2011 9ColtThe supermini is available as a three-door, five-door and hot-hatch Ralliart models. Prices start from below £10,000. Only available as a petrol, the 1.1 CRZ offers 52.3 mpg and CO2 emissions of 125g/km. ClearTec models offer sub-120g/km. The Mitsubishi rangepublished as part of a star rating system to allow other customers to choose the dealer that is right for them. Bradley says: "Our customers are the most important part of our business. The Excellent Service programme allows us to monitor our dealers' performance to ensure that customers are receiving the best service possible."Lead times are not an issue for Mitsubishi either. To meet customer demands, the manufacturer holds three to four months of stock so has the capacity to deliver almost straight away. Current customers can also order and review stock online and are contacted six months in advance by customer service staff to get order requirements."Building a good relationship with our customers is key.Asking requirements six months in advance so they can review dealer codes online and order/request vehicles is an important part to Mitsubishi's success," says Woodward.With lowering emissions at the top of its priorities, the manufacturer is well placed to continue its success.I-MievMitsubishi was the first manufacturer to bring an electric vehicle to market with the I-Miev early this year. To add to its appeal, Mitsubishi added a three-year servicing plan for £300. It offers a range of 93 miles from a seven-hour charge.OutlanderA new 2.2-litre diesel engine with variable valve technology gives the Outlander more power, improved fuel efficiency, yet lower CO2 emissions (from 165g/km). Prices for the Outlander start at £24,499 with seven-seat versions also available.ShogunThe Shogun features increased power, reduced CO2 emissions and increased towing capacity. It is available in LWB, SWB and Commercial versions CO2 is 207g/km for manual models and 216g/km for automatics. L200Last year's winner at the Fleet Van Awards and popular with fleets that need pick-up trucks, the L200 comes as a single cab, double cab and club cab. CO2 emissions start at 215g/km, and combined fuel consumption is up to 34.9mpg. Lancer The Lancer is available as a saloon, a five-door hatchback, and a high- performance Ralliart hatchback. Prices start from £15,199 for the GS2 model, and both petrol and diesel versions are available."We just make it our business to be good and what we do and deliver excellent service" Kate Woodward, Mitsubishi UK