By on November 12, 2011

Mitsubishi didn’t exactly light the world on fire when it released its Global Small concept (left) at this year’s Geneva Auto Show… but now that concept has become reality (right), it’s even more clear that Mitsu’s mojo has been lost in the unglamorous world of basic transportation for emerging markets. It’s not clear if the Thai-built Colt/Mirage will make it to the brand’s US lineup, but if it does i certainly won’t help turn around Mitsubishi’s dowdy image here. The only way to make this car any more mundane  would be to debadge it completely. Slightly less prosaic but still quite underwhelming: the Grand Cherokee-meets-Range Rover Evoque update to the Outlander, shown in the plug-in hybrid concept PX-MIEV II. Though none of Mitsu’s new designs are actively offensive, their dullness speaks to some serious creative malaise… especially in contrast to the vibrantly creative Japanese designs that are headed to the Tokyo Auto Show. Perhaps we’ve solved the mystery of Mitsubishi’s disappearing US sales staff?

 

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26 Comments on “Mitsubishi: It’s A Mundane, Mundane, Mundane World (Car)...”


  • avatar
    amac

    “vibrantly creative Japanese designs that are headed to the Tokyo Auto Show”??

    So I’m guessing that these new designs are nothing like what Japan has been offering as of late? Even Toyota’s latest, like the Yaris and Camry for example, are just as dowdy as any Mitsubishi product. Even Toyota/Subaru’s more-hyped-than-the-Camaro FT-whatever isn’t exactly my idea of “vibrantly creative”, the Scion TC just looks like it barely escaped the crusher, then there’s that tragic Nissan Versa sedan… I dunno, I’m not so thrilled with what I’ve seen coming out of Japan lately.

  • avatar
    KalapanaBlack

    Poor Mitsubishi… Today’s up-and-comers (Hyundai-Kia) and tomorrow’s expected ones (China, Inc.) all based their first 15 years of designs on Mitsubishi, and now the old horse is on its last leg, it seems. Trust me, their “sales renaissance” is coming from fleet-dumping Galants and last-run Endeavors and Eclipses for money that rental companies “couldn’t refuse,” in the words of one exec I spoke to recently. They have seen some true sales on the back of the Outlander Sport, but it’s just a couple thousand a month.

    The weak early hoopla surrounding the Lancer and Outlander has cooled, and they have nothing new coming to the US anytime soon.

    Too bad they never produced the gorgeous Concept-ZT from a few years ago ( http://files.conceptcarz.com/img/Mitsubishi/mitsubishi_concept_ZT-manu-08_02-1024.jpg ). If that were the recently redesigned Galant, even with the current car’s very solid mechanicals (it really does drive well, it just looks horrible inside and out and has the worst automotive seats produced in the past 15 years), I think their sales news would be far more positive than old-school fleet dumping.

  • avatar
    danup

    That is a deeply boring car, and I even kind of liked the concept. The shame of it is that the current Colt is a unique, striking little dustbuster of a car, even though it might be uncompetitive in other ways. This just looks like last year’s Yaris.

  • avatar
    mjz

    Looks like the new 2013 Mediocrity.

  • avatar
    mjz

    Additional proof that ALL of the Japanese carmakers are in a design funk.

  • avatar
    L'avventura

    I can’t help but feel that TTAC is missing the real story here; that MMC is going to shift to Thailand to be a major export source to first world markets.

    While Mitsubishi may be weak in many markets, it is still a major force in ASEAN markets. With the high yen, and dirt-cheap labor of Thai labor (cheaper than China even), weak currency, and slew of free trade agreements; the news here is that Thailand may become a major export source to the United States- particularly for Japanese makers that have a already strong and established presence there.

    Mitsubishi is expected to restart production the day after tomorrow after the Thai floods(as of this writing). But MMC in Thailand already has a full lineup of cars they product there; Colt, Lancer, Pajero SUV, the Triton pickup.

    While the US has been distracted by the fear of the Chinese to flood the US automotive market, Thailand may actually be the real threat to those protectionist sentiments. Chinese automotive exports have been a disappointment while Thai automotive exports have penetrated major markets.

    What I find amusing is that while discussion of the mundane design seems to be the central theme of discussion, the major story should be what a huge role Thailand really plays in this industry. Only after these floods, and its major disruption in the global supply chain, has this become a source of discussion.

    • 0 avatar
      PenguinBoy

      A very insightful post – thanks.

      I can see this happening, with rapid inflation in China they can no longer compete on “cheap”, and the Chinese haven’t been able to build any significant international brands as of yet.

      A “Thai invasion” of cheap cars sold under existing Japanese brands seems more likely. As the floods have shown us, Thailand is already being used as a “cost to market” manufacturing region by the Japanese, so it does make sense for this trend to continue, especially in light of the rising Yen.

      Another possibility sourcing even more parts from low cost regions like Thailand, but doing just enough value added work in Japan or the US to keep a “Made in Japan” or “Made in US” label on the finished product.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    Mitsubishi can always go back to building fighter planes – oh, wait – they were great for a little while, but obsolete shortly afterwards, too.

  • avatar
    gslippy

    EN: If you were alluding to the terrific 1963 comedy “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World”, you missed a “Mundane” in the headline. And that’s what the latest offerings from Mitsubishi are.

    However, in a culture largely driven by image, I’ll suggest that presenting a silver-on-gray rendition of a new car is very much a downer. If that car was shown in bright yellow with 18″ aluminum wheels (instead of those hideous plastic covers) in a chic urban background, and we were told it had an optional 240 HP 1.8 turbo engine that got 25/35 mpg, then the B&B would herald this car as Mitusbishi’s US salvation.

    Most images like this show the top model; this one seems to do just the opposite. Perhaps their products aren’t totally to blame; their PR staff has lost its mojo, too.

    Context matters, particularly with artists’ renditions.

    • 0 avatar
      dastanley

      Every new year’s eve in the 70s, WTCG 17 in Atlanta, which later became TBS Superstation, showed It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World. I remember it as a fun movie – and long.

  • avatar
    seanx37

    I haven’t seen a new Mitsubishi on the road in years. Of course, I live in metro Detroit, and foreign cars are sometimes hard to find.There are several cars I have never seen on the road. Never seen a Nissan GTR,Hyundai Equus,Lexus L600h.

    I have no idea where there is a Mitsubishi dealer. I don’t know a single person who owns one.

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      Mitsubishi’s web site says your closest dealer is 12 miles from town, then two 17 miles away, then 39 miles, and so on.

      Here in western PA, the situation is similar, although there are (presumably) newer Mitsubishis on the roads here.

    • 0 avatar
      Robert.Walter

      Native detroiter here, but living in Switzerland these last 13 years… Didn’t Tamaroff or Glassman have a Mitsubishi franchise? Gone now? Wasn’t there also something on Mich Av in Wayne and Ford Rd in Canton?

  • avatar
    TonyJZX

    the only car they make that’s worth anything is the EVO

    its a running theme that they made white Lancers and base SUVs for government agencies like Community Services and Housing other boring departments

    they like Honda have lost the ‘zing’…. where’s the sex appeal that gets people into the dealerships? they don’t have it

  • avatar
    obruni

    I like the Lancer Sportback, but its lacking in value for money and fuel economy.

    Mitsubishi maintains some presence in Europe by making SUVs and electric cars for Peugeot-Citroen. They tried to pull off an equity alliance like Renault Nissan but it didn’t work (Peugeot probably was frightened when it opened Mitsubishi’s financial books)

    I always found it odd that Mitsubishi didnt try selling the i outside of the UK. I mean, now they have the electric model across Europe, but the petrol engined model would have provided some interesting competition for the Smart.

  • avatar
    johnhowington

    In Austin I like to think of it as a social experiment of car trends. I see lots of Fiat 500s, Smart cars, and Mini Coopers, and the occasional Italian super car every few months. On the used Mitsubish front, I have see tons of 98+ galants and still some eclipses from the 90s. Rarely do i see Endeavors, and Montero Sports are becoming endangered. I think their most promising product is the 1st gen Outlander, sort of like a bloated Outback that everyone forgot. I have maybe seen one of the 2nd gen Outlander in 2 years on the road. America does need more small cars to push down the crazy transaction prices going on these days. I still am agast that I am about to drop 26k on a 2012 Outback myself tomorrow, but I am getting over it.

  • avatar
    dolorean

    Wow, hate looking at these pictures. Can’t stop myself from yawning. Here I thought Hondas and Toyotas were appliances, but even the Corolla seems an exciting option over this. However wasn’t that long ago Hyundai’s were this boring, so who knows.

    They both look like generic cars that you see in government safety ads.

  • avatar
    fred schumacher

    I don’t see the problem. It looks like a generic supermini. There’s only so much that can be done within the dimension and cost constraints.

    My one experience with Mitsubishis is the 1986 Colt Vista 4WD wagon we had in the early 90s. My wife commuted with it to International Falls — 168 mile round trip — one winter. She’d leave at 5 AM, and it got her through on unplowed roads, but the car was a lemon. It was unnecessarily complex and had more relays than an Olympics race. I sold it cheap and bought a Plymouth Sundance, which was trouble free until road salt and frost heaved roads built on muskeg did it in at 230,000 miles.

  • avatar
    dastanley

    I saw on Yahoo news the other day that the Mitsubishi Galant was one of the most stolen cars in America. Other than test driving a Montero many years ago, I’ve never really taken much notice of MMC. The Mitsubishi dealer here in Farmington, NM is also the Mazda and Suzuki dealer.


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