Mitsubishi Motors Australia (MMAL) launched the Mitsubishi 380 as a successor to the Mitsubishi Magna/Verada range of vehicles in 2005. This mid-sized vehicle remained in production until 2008. The available figures show that the Mitsubishi Motors Australia spent more than $600 million Australian dollars to design and manufacture 380, which was based on the ninth generation Mitsubishi Galant. Through Mitsubishi 380, the Mitsubishi Motors Australia kept the tradition alive of developing front-wheel drive sedans. Together with the Toyota Aurion, it contended against the rear-wheel drive vehicles like Ford Falcon and Holden Commodore.
Unfortunately, the 380 marked with stigma as the “make or break” model for the company even before it was formally released. The vehicle failed to make good sales as a result of which the company introduced an updated version on April 28, 2006 as Series II followed by a revised Series III on July 29, 2007 with minor changes. However, all these efforts from Mitsubishi Australia failed to bring any results and eventually the production of the 380 was halted by the company in March 2008.
History of Development
In 2002, Mitsubishi started working on their DB series Mitsubishi 380 after receiving an approval from the company executives in Japan. Mitsubishi Motors Australia was given an approval to work on their two vehicles. The first being the right-hand drive variant of the ninth generation Mitsubishi Galant, codenamed PS41 aimed to replace the Magna and Verada, while the second being the larger vehicle with long-wheelbase offered in both left- and right-wheel drive platforms, codenamed PS41L. Unfortunately, the financial crisis took hold of the Mitsubishi as a result of which the DaimlerChrysler discontinued the alliance with Mitsubishi. This eventually resulted in the renouncement of PS41L in 2004. Also, it became extremely hard for the company to put the PS41 into production. A research conducted in 2004 suggested that 84% of Australian thought that Mitsubishi would halt the production in Australia. A series of television commercials aired in December 2004 focusing on the Mitsubishi Motors Australia’s then CEO Tom Philips to restore the lost customer confidence in the brand. The concluding tagline of commercials was, “if you can find a better-built, better-backed car anywhere, then buy it”.
Mitsubishi Motors Australia spent around Aus$600 million in the manufacturing of Mitsubishi 380. Of $600 million, $250 million were just spent on upgrading the Adelaide production facility to equip it with more state of the art equipment to manufacture vehicles. A new body press was also installed in the facility that could cast the body sides from an individual piece of steel. The body press allows producing a 0.7 mm (0.03 inch) size differentiation from one body to another in contrast to the industry standard of 1.0 to 1.5 mm (0.04 to 0.06 inch) for 2005.
Although, the 380 was based on the Galant, there were a wide range of changes made in it in order to make it comply with the Australian market. The sedan received a new 6G75 3.8-L V6 engine. The 380 ES received a 5-speed manual transmission; however, a 5-speed sequential automatic was an available option.