Mitsubishi and PSA Peugeot-Citroen signed a deal today for joint development of new 4x4 models. As we reported earlier this week, the deal will provide a lifeline for struggling Mitsubishi, which needs partnerships and investment to produce new models, and give PSA an expedient route into 4x4 production, taking into a sector in which it has very little experience. The Memorandum of Understanding signed today "plans the annual production in Japan of 30,000 units for PSA Peugeot-Citroen's needs, based on a Mitsubishi platform currently under development", according to a statement from the two companies today.

The new SUVs will feature the PSA 2.2 HDI diesel engines with particulate filters and Mitsubishi petrol units, and will be sold as Peugeot, Citroen and Mitsubishi-branded vehicles with different exterior designs for each brand. "For the PSA Peugeot Citroen group, these SUVs will expand the ranges of the two brands Peugeot and Citroen. The models aim to attract new customers predominantly in European markets", says PSA. "For Mitsubishi Motors, the additional volume will enable the company to raise capacity utilisation rates and to improve productivity." Initially, the models will be supplied to Europe, but worldwide sales are also under consideration. Initial feedback suggests that the cars will be 4x4-station wagon crossovers rather than all-out off-roaders.

Mitsubishi will launch the first of these new vehicles in Japan at the end of this year, in the US in 2006 and in Europe in 2007; it will replace the current Outlander. The Peugeot and Citroen 4x4s will follow in 2007. PSA says that it "has no plan concerning the US market", though some analysts have suggested that the launch of SUVs would be appropriate for reintroducing Peugeot and Citroen to the States.