Mitsubishi will launch a total of eight electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids
Mitsubishi Motors to launch 8 green cars by 2016 PHOTO: MITSUBISHI

TOKYO, January 20, 2011 (AFP) - Japan's Mitsubishi Motors Corp. said Thursday it would launch eight new environmentally friendly car models by March 2016 while boosting production in Brazil, Russia and emerging Asian nations.

Mitsubishi will launch a total of eight electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids, starting with a mini commercial vehicle, the MINICAB-MiEV, the company said as it unveiled a new mid-term business plan from April.

Japan's fourth-largest automaker launched the i-MiEV, the world's first commercially produced electric vehicle, in 2009.

The eight models will also include Mitsubishi's first plug-in gasoline-electric hybrid vehicles, to be rolled out in the fiscal year starting April 2012.

Mitsubishi said it would "adjust" production and capacity to appropriate levels in mature markets, while boosting levels in emerging markets.

"MMC will strengthen its production capacity in emerging markets to respond to the range of growing demands in these regions," the company said in a statement.

Company president Osamu Masuko said Mitsubishi would enhance business further in China through a new joint venture with a local partner.

"There is huge domestic demand in China and people's living standards are rapidly improving. I believe there is no major doubt that China will continue to grow," he told reporters.

Mitsubishi said it would build a third factory in Thailand to make it the company's second-largest export hub after Japan.

It will also increase capacity in China and Brazil, and begin full-scale production of sport-utility vehicles in Russia.

The ratio of overseas production to total output is expected to rise to 54 percent in the fiscal year 2013 from 44 percent in fiscal 2010. Global output is to soar to 1.58 million units from 1.1 million in the same period, the company said.

For many Japanese automakers firms, the yen's surge against the dollar and the euro has eaten into profits and made exporting vehicles from Japan less profitable.

More companies are considering moving production abroad to stay competitive against rivals benefiting from weaker currencies in their home countries.