TOKYO - Mitsubishi Motors Corp. will source the all-new Diamante sedan exclusively from Australia for the U.S. market when sales begin next year.
Mitsubishi introduced the Diamante successor here last week and revealed the new sourcing strategy, an important step in the company's effort to reduce dependence on exports from Japan.
'This is our new policy - or basic strategy - for coping with the rising yen,' Managing Director Taizo Yokoyama declared.
'We have to plan our production on a global basis. Exporting from Japan has become unfavorable because of the yen.'
Station wagon versions of the current generation Diamante have been exported to the United States from Australia since late 1992. Mitsubishi's Australian plant built 52,000 vehicles last year, including about 3,200 Diamante wagons that were sold in the United States.
Combined Diamante sedan and wagon sales in the United States fell to 18,096 units last year from 52,267 in 1993.
Yokoyama said exports of the revamped Diamante to the United States will begin late this year or in early 1996. Europe also is expected to be supplied from Australia.
Mitsubishi has targeted Diamante sales of 3,100 units a month in Japan, compared with an average of 2,400 during the life of the first-generation model.
WAGON VERSION DELAYED
The new Diamante arrives in Japan four years and eight months after the original series debuted. Yukimichi Kitane, general manager of the product planning department in Mitsubishi Motors Corp.'s passenger-car development and engineering office, said a wagon based on the new model is planned 'but will be delayed.'
The new sedan is rounder than much of what has come out of Japan lately, achieving a slippery 0.28 drag co-efficient.
The front-drive Diamante is 188.5 inches long, fractionally longer than the current model, and rides on a 107-inch wheelbase, about the same as the current Diamante.
Thirty-five percent of parts are common, about half carried over from the previous model and half from other Mitsubishi models.
Several new technical features have been incorporated, most notably a world-first 2.5-liter V-6 lean-burn engine. Previously, 1.8-liter engines offered on Mitsubishi's Galant and the Toyota Carina were the largest lean burns available.
Fuel efficiency on the 175-horsepower Mitsubishi lean-burn engine is about 16 percent greater than a conventional 2.5-liter V-6.
But Kitane said there is no plan to offer the lean burn in the United States.
The Diamante also is available with a 270-hp, 3.0-liter MIVEC twin-cam engine, and a 2.5-liter V-6 rated at 230 hp.
The Diamante also features another world first: a five-speed automatic transmission on a front-drive car.
Like the Porsche Tiptronic, the Mitsubishi transmission can be operated either as a five-speed automatic or as a clutchless manual transmission.
The new Diamante is priced in Japan from the equivalent of $22,950 for the 2.5-liter 24-valve model to $44,300 for the 3.0-liter version with Sport Mode transmission. The 2.5-liter lean burn is priced at $28,500.
Other features include an optional Preview Distance Control, an evolution of Mitsubishi's distance warning system that's available on the Japan-market Debonair. The unit uses a laser-radar device to sense the distance of the vehicle ahead and a miniature camera built into the interior mirror.
A tire pressure alarm comes as standard equipment.
A microprocessor that constantly evaluates data from wheel-mounted sensors activates an alarm when changes in tire radius are detected.