Mitsubishi Motors is looking at Southeast Asia to help it cement its place in the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance, according to the Nikkei Asian Review. The automaker says it is planning to expand its presence in the region, which now accounts for nearly half of its 110 billion yen (RM4.01 billion) in group operating profit.

The outlook is buoyed by sales in the region, which is expected to set a record for the first time in six years -the company says it is aiming to sell 310,000 units in Southeast Asia in fiscal 2018, an increase of 14% from that achieved in 2017. The numbers are three times higher than its sales in the domestic market and represents a quarter of the global total.

Sales have been boosted by the Xpander, which went on sale last year in Indonesia and has been a big hit with buyers. The seven-seat SUV-styled MPV is expected to help the automaker more than double its sales in the country to 137,000 units in fiscal 2018 from fiscal 2016.

Earlier this month, Thai production reached the cumulative figure of five million vehicles, and it was also announced that the company is seeking approval from the Thai government to begin local production of plug-in hybrid vehicles later this year.

The automaker also operates assembly plants in Indonesia and the Philippines, where it it widening its dealership networks. It has increased production in the Philippines since acquiring Ford’s Santa Rosa facility in 2015, reinforcing local production of its Mirage in the republic.

In fiscal 2019, Mitsubishi Motors aims to sell 1.3 million vehicles globally and achieve 150 billion yen (RM5.45 billion) in operating profit, and the expectations are that the region will make a significant contribution on gains being made, on both counts.