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Mitsubishi Motors plots Southeast Asian expansion

Automaker to beef up sales operations in key growth market

MANILA -- Mitsubishi Motors plans to broaden its dealership network by 20% and double its maintenance staff across the Philippines, Indonesia and Thailand by 2020, aiming to hone its edge in a region with bright growth prospects.

Dealerships in the Philippines will increase from 48 to 70, while maintenance personnel there will more than double to 1,400. The Japanese automaker started up a new production line this month for the Mirage compact with help from trading house Sojitz, switching to local output for a model it had imported from Thailand. Mitsubishi Motors boasts a roughly 15% share of the Philippine auto market, second only to Toyota Motor, and hopes to raise the figure further.

In Indonesia, Mitsubishi Motors will boost its dealership count by 20% to 300 and double maintenance staffers to 3,000. A sales arm there that also handles commercial vehicles from Mitsubishi Fuso Truck and Bus will be reorganized in April, with a new unit to focus solely on passenger vehicles. Mitsubishi Motors has also built a new factory that will manufacture a new multipurpose vehicle due out this fall.

The Thai dealership network will expand 6% to 230.

The automaker plans to capitalize on its strength in Southeast Asia -- which accounts for a fifth of its global sales -- in its partnership with Nissan Motor, which took a 34% stake in October. Mitsubishi Motors will produce multipurpose vehicles for Nissan in Indonesia, as well as join hands with its larger peer on parts procurement. It will continue to manage its own sales strategy for now.

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