Editor's note: A previous version of this story gave an incorrect estimate for when the deal between the automakers will be finalized.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and Mitsubishi Motors are working out the final details of a supply contract in which the Japanese automaker will provide the Fiat brand with a version of its new Thai-built L200 midsize pickup, a Mitsubishi executive said.
Fiat plans to sell the pickup in Europe and Latin America, where demand for such models is growing.
"The good point for Fiat is that we can supplement their lineup, while we fill up the production in Thailand,” Mitsubishi global pickup boss Koichi Namiki told Automotive News Europe. “Fiat's pickup truck will be 100 percent Mitsubishi from a mechanical point of view, but we have to consider differentiation [to the design and other areas visible to customers] and we're working on that."
The deal should be finalized before the end of this year, a Fiat spokesman said.
Mitsubishi started manufacturing its re-designed L200, also known as the Triton, in Laem Chabang last year. The Japanese carmaker aims to increase global sales of the new-generation L200 to 200,000 units a year from the 130,000 of the old model. Europe accounted for 10 percent of the previous L200’s sales, making it the pickup’s second-largest region after ASEAN, which includes Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam. Mitsubishi won't sell the L200 in the U.S., Canada and Japan.
Fiat Chrysler is expected to start selling the pickup in 2016 under its Fiat Professional light commercial vehicle brand. Broadening Fiat Professional’s lineup is a crucial element of Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne’s plan to make the automaker’s European business consistently profitable.
Fiat’s current lineup includes the Strada, a front-wheel-drive-only unibody small pickup built in Brazil and sold in Europe and Latin America. The Strada was Fiat’s top-selling pickup in Europe last year and ranked ninth overall despite having a volume of just 1,399 units, according to JATO Dynamics. The top-selling pickup in Europe last year was the Toyota Hilux (24,040 units) with the Ford Ranger (22,019), Volkswagen Amarok (16,007), Nissan Navara (13,451) and L200 (13,271) rounding out the top five.
The overall segment is on the rise as pickup sales grew 5 percent last year to 114,892 compared with 2013.
When Mercedes-Benz announced in March its plans to add a midsize pickup it said it was doing so because the pickup market is undergoing sustained growth in markets such as Europe and Latin America.