Ur-Turn: Mitsubishi's Biggest Fan Discusses The Renault-Nissan Deal

by Ur-Turn

Today’s edition of Ur-Turn comes from Brian Driggs, a long-time TTAC reader, Mitsubishi fan and published of Gearbox Magazine, a digital enthusiast publication that we highly recommend.

As a North American Mitsubishi enthusiast, I often find the dismissive comments about the brand disappointing. While the US might be the second largest market on the planet (second to China, I suspect), it’s far from being the only market. I believe Mitsubishi is diversified enough they can afford to be more proactive with regard to automotive trends. News of the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi partnership only supports that belief.

Mitsubishi doesn’t necessarily have to move a lot of units in the US market. While everyone else is focused on converting existing models into hybrids, I see Mitsubishi looking beyond, to the next generation of electric vehicles and infrastructure. They don’t have to change up their message every month because everyone still thinks their $40,000 “EV” is really a hybrid. They’re just quietly evolving into a fun-to-drive electric brand for the masses; laggards in one respect, early adopters in another.

Back to the new partnership. By now, everyone is familiar with the details; Renault-Nissan gets access to more EV technology and Mitsubishi gets a “new” model to likely replace the now soundly stale, North American Galant. All three will collaborate on a couple new models in the not-too-distant future, which should be nice.

Still, the comments run the full, incredulous gamut, from “I can’t believe Mitsubishi is still in business,” to “Mitsubishi is still doing sub-prime auto lending?” Yeah. That’s right. They are still in business and they are still doing sub-prime lending. This new partnership isn’t meant to reinvent their brand in America. It’s meant to keep costs down while they continue developing the vehicles they know the world is going to demand as fuel prices continue to rise (and corporate welfare hopefully ends) in coming years.

So who are the EV experts these days? Tesla comes to mind; Bold, innovative, exotic. Nissan’s up there with the Leaf. And then there’s Mitsubishi. What’s that? You’ve never seen an iMiEV on your way to work? That’s okay. They just took second and third place at the Pike’s Peak International Hill Climb this year, giving “Monster” Tajima a good run for his money in the rain. They also build electric trains, industrial lasers, consumer electronics, and dabble in nuclear power generation. I’d say they know what they’re doing.

The global auto industry is so inbred these days, it’s foolish to single out any one player as somehow being destined to fail – especially based on it’s perceived performance in the American market. Globally, Mitsubishi is doing just fine, and I’d offer their ability to weather the economic downturn whilst remaining focused on the product lineup they want to sell speaks to the quality of their brand.

Not to say I consider anyone here a fool for taking a comfortable seat on the Sycophant Express – we all do it. I’m quick to point out the only reason GM is remotely profitable today isn’t because they’re making better cars, but because they’re still enjoying limited competition in the truck market and because, for some strange reason, they’re huge in China. That’s my personal hangup.

We’re all bound to have different opinions, but our shared interest in the auto industry, in all its interwoven complexity, is a solid foundation upon which we can build greater understanding of the world around us. I’ll be honest with you, barring announcement the Mitsubishi Triton will be built in the States, or that this merger will mean I can get finally get a turbo-diesel, 6-speed manual, all-wheel drive, ASX4 (unlikely, as that’s a partnership with Peugeot and Citroën), news of this merger hardly moves my pulse. It does, however, show me Mitsubishi is still doing better than many had thought and remains focused on the long game and, in that respect, pleases me.


Brian Driggs is Editor-in-Chief of Gearbox Magazine


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2 of 46 comments
  • Roar Roar on Nov 15, 2013

    Most of you are missing the point. The Galant, Eclipe and several other of the Mitsu cars of the past were a product of the partnership with Chrylser, I am sure that when Chrysler went BK it cost Mitsu a ton of money. Mitsu is going to focus on SUV's, CUV's etc and outsource cars to people who already make them. They are building Outlander Sport in Normal ILL today and are planning to increase production at the plant to meet world demand for the product, no more vehicles just for the U.S. So time will tell if they have made a good decision.

  • CelticPete CelticPete on Nov 17, 2013

    Color me unconvinced. Despite that fact that I can't quite fathom being a fan of Mitsu lets discuss whats REALLY happening with them and cars. Basically they don't care enough to spend the money to compete in the segement. Its not about them weathering any 'storms'. These guys aren't Lotus. They do not field a full lineup becuase they don't want to hire the engineers and spend the money to compete in the car business. At the same time partly because they are huge beaurcratic slow moving Japanese multinational they don't want to cut bait and get out of the car business either. This would actually be the logical step.. Mitsu needs to wake up and go all in or all out. Why complement this half-assed strategy. THey are not some dying niche brand like Volvo or Jaguar. They are huge mutlinational with their fingers in everything.. So yes they COULD return..but this is not some awesome super secret strategy. They are just going through the motions right now to please the higher ups. Yes it sounds stupid but if you ever work for some giant corporation you can find yourself working for some department thats half-assing it. They don't get the funding to compete but the management won't let you die either. The Japanese are far from immune to corporate mismanagement. Blast GM all you like and mock the Chinese. But GM - at least some of the guys really care about making cars. That's what they do. And they live up to their name making some of the best ICE engines in the world.

  • Carson D I hadn't seen a second-generation Courier with a Mazda engine before. I've seen a few with Ford engines. There was one at the Cox Driving Range that they used to collect golf balls. Golf would definitely be more entertaining to watch if they used moving targets.
  • Tassos ooops, Tim, you missed this one. Would make a lovely "Tim's used car of the day". It satisfies all the prerequisites except the wildly overpriced bit.
  • Tassos ASTON AND BOND BY A MILE. While Aston Martin sells a TINY FRACTION of what even the rarified Ferrari and Lambo sell, it is unbelievably well known. Credit the idiotic, but hugely successful and sometimes entertaining James Bond Movies.
  • Tassos 1988? Too young for me. It's all yours, Tim... BAHAHAHAHA!
  • Gray Awesome. Love these. But, if I had the money for a Fox-body, there is a clean '84 GT 350 here for little more than half the price.