Mitsubishi Motors slides into red in first half

Mitsubishi Motors slides into red in first half

Tokyo: Mitsubishi Motors reported a net loss of 36.4 billion yen ($403 million) for the April-September period, battered by plunging sales and a strong yen, but aims to be profitable for the full year.

Mitsubishi Motors, which has fallen into fifth place behind Mazda among Japanese automakers, said Thursday its sales for the fiscal first half tumbled 53 percent to 573 billion yen.

In the same period a year earlier, the automaker had a net profit of 12.8 billion yen and sales of 1.214 trillion yen.

To boost competitiveness in the second half, the company plans to expand the number of environmentally friendly cars that qualify for tax breaks and subsidies to 15 from 10. It also plans to launch a new compact SUV in February.

It also introduced the Lancer Sportback in September in the US, and plans a facelift for the SUV Outlander in the American and European markets by next month.

Mitsubishi Motors, which also makes the Eclipse sports coupe and Galant sedan, aims to be in the black again for the full year. It maintained its forecast of an annual net profit of 5 billion yen on sales of 1.5 trillion yen.

The company blamed the first-half loss on weak consumer demand and the yen’s strength, which erodes overseas income when repatriated to Japan.

“The situation facing the automobile industry continues to be severe," it said in a release.

Sales declines were particularly pronounced in Europe, where the number of vehicles sold fell 44% from a year earlier to 93,000 units.

Sales fell across all regions during the April-September period. In North America, sales dropped 35 percent to 46,000 units, while in Asia, Latin America and the Mideast sales fell 18% to 229,000 vehicles. In Japan, sales declined 8 percent to 77,000 units.