QOTD: Does Mitsubishi Need to Exist?
Thinking back to just over a decade ago, Mitsubishi was still in the full-line automaker business. For most needs, there existed an option at your Mitsubishi dealer, which then was a place with functioning lighting and definitely not a former Pizza Hut or Carl’s Jr.
But that’s all changed now, and it has me wondering — is there really a point to Mitsubishi, you know, being a thing?
Circa mid-2000s, Mitsubishi had some volume Diamond Star Motors options
for better or for worse: the Galant midsize and the Eclipse, which was, of course, a certified sports car. There was the Lancer, Lancer Evolution, and Lancer Sportback. There was also the Diamante, a midsize Lexus ES300 competitor. (LOL!) Mitsubishi also sold one of my favorite unibody SUVs: the full-size, optionally two-tone Montero, and its younger trucky sibling, the Montero Sport. A couple of crossovers beefed up the 4WD offerings in the Outlander and Endeavor. Mitsubishi also once again had a Raider, which was actually a Dakota. We don’t need to think much about that one. The point is, I count 11 model offerings if we’re being generous, and that’s a full line.
Move forward to present day, and almost all of that is gone. Here’s the current Mitsubishi lineup:
i-MiEV (the all-electric disaster)
Mirage/Mirage Sedan (G4)
And that’s it: four vehicles. There’s no midsize sedan, no luxury options, no real SUV, no coupe. You can have a subcompact in electric or gasoline, and a compact CUV or a near-midsize CUV, which runs on premium fuel if you opt for the underpowered V6.
The dealers? Surely they haven’t changed much, right? Well, here’s what Google showed me when I searched up my local Cincinnati Mitsubishi dealer, Kerry Mitsubishi. I didn’t realize how much the Outlander was cribbing on Econoline styling these days.
We all know the story of how Nissan announced it would spent $2.2 billion to acquire a controlling stake in Mitsubishi via a bulk shares purchase in May of last year. Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn said big things are in the works for this new Nissan and Mitsubishi “alliance,” as it were.
But I’m here questioning whether all that’s really necessary. As we see above, the Mitsubishi dealer network is in a state of … let’s say disrepair. The model lineup is Swiss cheese. And the kind of customer the brand attracts is generally already served by Nissan. Speaking of, all of Mitsubishi’s models are already duplicated entirely by the Nissan lineup. The LEAF, Versa, Juke/Rogue, Murano — and there you go, Nissan has replaced all the Mitsubishis.
So rather than bother with trying to save and re-energize this brand in North America, I’m thinking it’s not worth the trouble. Pare down the models over the next few years and replace them with Nissan badge jobs if necessary. Or perhaps just offer an incentive to visit the Nissan dealer down the street when current Mitsubishi customers are ready for a new ride. It’s a win-win, as Nissan can simultaneously sell more Nissan vehicles while trimming a bit of excess baggage.
Maybe I’m missing some grand design or cost savings somewhere. Doubtless, one of you B&B can show me my error, or some proof that a new Montero is on the way to US shores, in which case I might reconsider.
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