Maybe it’s not the product, but the dealerships? It might not be the solution to all of the problems facing an increasingly less troubled Mitsubishi north of the border, but it can’t hurt.
Under a new five-year plan, the automaker plans to revamp and modernize all of its 90 Canadian dealers. Bright, glassy and inviting, the redesigned dealerships are worth the expense if it helps draw more buyers into a customer base that hasn’t grown much in years.
No dealer gets a pass from Mitsubishi’s Dealer Image Program. Across the brand’s four-tier dealer landscape, larger retailers could see entirely new buildings, while smaller ones will see upgrades in order to meet the new standard. Prominent signage, a drive-through service bay that’s visible from inside the dealer, and easy access to all departments are key parts of the program.
The point of this is to “enhance Mitsubishi Motors’ brand image, catch the attention of consumers, improve customer satisfaction and increase both sales and service opportunities for our Canadian dealerships,” said Tony Laframboise, president & CEO, Mitsubishi Motor Sales of Canada, in a statement.
While Mitsubishi has recorded year-over-year sales growth in the U.S. since 2012, its Canadian sales hit a plateau in 2013 after a slow ascent through the 2000s. Product plays the biggest role, but image counts for something. The first all-new dealer has already opened in Quebec — a jurisdiction that seems to love the low-cost Mirage.
Still, it will take more than a popular subcompact and dealer makeover to meaningfully boost sales in today’s market. As it figures out how to share platforms and components with its new Renault-Nissan overlords, the compact 2018 Eclipse Cross crossover is the first — and so far, only — all-new model bound for North America. Positioned in the same segment as the Outlander Sport (RVR in Canada), that crossover represents Mitsubishi’s best hopes for a sales bump.
A redesigned Outlander and downsized Outlander Sport will have to wait.
[Image: Mitsubishi Motor Sales of Canada]