Mitsubishi’s commitment to the American market seems to hinge on two crossovers, one plug-in, and a hilariously undersized A-segment car. The plan is so absurd that it may have a chance of succeeding.
Hans Greimel of Automotive News sat down with Osamu Masuko, head of Mitsubishi Motors, to discuss his plans for the United States. In the wake of Suzuki’s departure from America, all eyes are on Mitsubishi to be the next one to bounce from the USA. Mitsubishi is targeting 55,000 units for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2013. After that, it’s 80,000 units or bust.
While Mitsubishi lost the Endeavor, Eclipse and Galant this past year, there is new product in the pipeline. The Outlander Sport will be built in Mitsubishi’s Illinois factory, with a view to exporting it to markets like Russia. Meanwhile, the upcoming Outlander and its plug-in sibling should end up as Mitsubishi’s core product, sitting alongside the aging Lancer and the super Evolution, which somehow has managed to hang on.
While Mitsubishi is banking on the Outlander to help it achieve a medium-term goal of 100,000 sales annually, one car that won’t make a big splash is the Mirage A-segment car that Mitsubishi has pledged to import. Maskuo told AN that monthly sales of 600 units may end up as Mitsubishi’s target, and due to that, it may only be sold in certain regions. An EV may be part of the plan as well, but Maskuo is concious of the failure of the all-electric i, and the capabilities of a Mirage EV, stating
As for EVs, it’s true, not everything went according to plan. But that’s not to say that EV technology was rejected. This technology is a must and indispensible for developed economies.
Mitsubishi still has to contend with an ancient, uncompetitive Lancer and nothing to replace the Galant. And that may not be such a bad thing. The compact and mid-size segments are about as cutthroat as you can get, and it’s highly unlikely that anything they field would be good enough to steal sales away from the outstanding entries fielded by every other OEM.
Instead, Mitsubishi is left with a slightly odd, pseudo-niche lineup. Perhaps the Outlander and its plug-in variant will take off. Sales of the Spark have been stronger than expected, and the Mirage may find itself duking it out with the hot-selling Chevy. The odds are not at all in Mitsubishi’s favor, and there’s a good chance their plan could fail. But they deserve some credit for doubling down on their strengths, rather than just fielding more half-assed “me too” product.