By on May 1, 2017

Mitsubishi Lancer GT

While nothing is set in stone just yet, Mitsubishi should have a blueprint for its U.S. product strategy as early as September. The automaker, recently enlivened by its entry into the Renault-Nissan Alliance, suddenly finds itself with new options on the table as it plots a course towards greater U.S. market share.

Part of that strategy will likely mean covering segments now left empty in the brand’s product lineup. Before entering the Alliance, Mitsubishi’s main goal was getting more utility vehicles out the door, and that will remain the company’s growth driver in the near future, says chief operating officer Trevor Mann.

Still, the newfound ability to share components and platforms with Nissan opens the door to interesting new possibilities, and Mann knows what he wants.

Speaking to Automotive News, Mann suggested a sedan and pickup could be on the way. After the company ends production of the aging Lancer this year, Mitsubishi, which once fielded a model in each passenger car segment, will have only the subcompact hatchback Mirage and subcompact sedan Mirage G4. A midsize pickup would allow the brand access to a growing and potentially lucrative U.S. market.

Overseas, Mitsubishi sells the Triton/L200 — basically, a rebadged Nissan Navara — but America’s long-derided chicken tax has kept the model an ocean away. The Alliance could change that. As the two companies look to join forces on a new pickup for Southeast Asia, the same could occur in North America.

It’s not just Nissan’s hardware that Mitsubishi has access to, but also cash and capacity. Carlos Ghosn, CEO of both companies, wants the struggling brand to revive its fortunes by using Nissan as a crutch where necessary.

Just a year after Mitsubishi closed its only U.S. assembly plant, Mann mulled a production footprint could return — possibly by piggy-backing on Nissan’s.

“It’s something that we should look at,” he said. “As we go forward and start to have common platforms, an alliance pickup platform would be quite an appropriate thing for us to do.”

Nissan builds its long-in-the-tooth Frontier (based on the previous-generation Navara) in Canton, Mississippi, and has said a next-generation model wouldn’t borrow from the redesigned 2018 Navara. Christian Meunier, senior vice president of Nissan North America, recently said he wants “something better” than a Navara clone, adding that Americans like “real trucks.”

A jointly developed pickup, plus a badge-engineered Nissan sedan (Galant? Diamante?), would give Mitsubishi the product it needs. In the meantime, Mann wants to expand the brand’s dealer footprint in the U.S. and continue its utility vehicle product strategy.

“The answer to your prayers is not just adding nameplates,” Mann said. “You’ve got to make sure the nameplates you’ve got are working for you. And we’ve got scope for improvement.”

This year should see the repeatedly delayed Outlander PHEV finally arrive stateside after becoming a hit in Europe. As well, the compact Eclipse Cross will bow as a 2018 model, providing unexpected competition for the brand’s Outlander Sport.

[Image: Mitsubishi Motors]

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38 Comments on “New Sedan and Pickup Possible as Mitsubishi Mulls U.S. Strategy...”

  • avatar

    I didn’t realize they had a US strategy apart from “do we still want to do this?”

  • avatar

    Bring back the Cordia!

    (Bonus points if you bought the “L” trim, making your Cordia into a Cordial.)

  • avatar

    I’m pretty sure the L200/Triton is not a rebadged Nissan. It’s a Mitsubishi design that is also sold by FCA as a Fiat and Ram

    • 0 avatar

      Fiat Toro. But would rather have the Fiat Strada.

    • 0 avatar

      Yep the L200 has been sold by Mitsubishi for years, seen in the UK as a bit of a workhorse, though tax incentives mean that the crew cab is now often a family car SUV alternative.

      Completely unrelated to the Navara.

      The Navara has gotten a bad reputation as a workhorse, from the D22 Navara engine issue – where the conrod would blow at any point, to many of the previous model literally snapping in 2!!!

      (previous models may have had the same issue, but the engine blowing meant many were scrapped anyway)

  • avatar

    I’d more than alright with this. I’d love to see someone come into the midsize truck space (and perhaps BOF midsize SUV space) with a cheaper option that undercuts the competition on price (either MSRP or real transaction prices). Perhaps this hypothetical shared truck would form the underpinnings of a reentry of a reborn Xterra and Montero Sport.

  • avatar

    At least in terms of MSRP, the Nissan Frontier S is the cheapest pickup sold in the US. Why would Nissan want to undercut themselves?

  • avatar

    Hello Steph,

    Triton/L200 shares nothing with Nissan Navara / Frontier. It was engineered, designed, built solely by Mitsubishi.

    Your statement below is completely incorrect –
    quote -Overseas, Mitsubishi sells the Triton/L200 — basically, a rebadged Nissan Navara — but America’s -end quote

  • avatar

    There is no Mitsubishi pickup truck ready for the US Market and sure as hell there is no Sedan available. (The latest version of the Lancer (not coming to the US) finally looks decent, but still lives in the same tired 8 yr platform)

    Which means its time to play badge swaps – and I really don’t want rebadged Nissans as Mitsus – Maybe a rebadged Renault sedan for a new Galant and a rebadged Nissan Pickup will have to do the trick. – Nissan would have to put serious $$$ for Mitsu to catch up in product development on anything that is not a small SUV. Can’t see it happening.

    • 0 avatar

      L200/Triton is ready for the US Market. Scores 4 of 5 stars on Euro NCAP.
      Would initially need to sell with 2.4L 4 cylinder gasoline engine.
      Not difficult to federalize.
      It would compete in compact pickup category. All the current competitors are larger midsize trucks.

      • 0 avatar

        That sounds like a pretty nice little trucklet actually.

        I’m actually waiting for someone to bring over a low cost smaller FWD-based pickup thingy, like a Ram 700 or Chevy Tornado. I love the simple and durable BOF+rwd underpinnings of my Ranger, but I will absolutely not be using it for commuting duty in the winter, given how poor traction from a stoplight can be even in the rain.

        • 0 avatar

          +1 on the FWD unibody trucklet. And if it’s Ram that does it, we could have a repeat of this 1987 picture:

          …with a Ram 700, Jeep midsize pickup, and Ram 1500.

        • 0 avatar

          “I’m actually waiting for someone to bring over a low cost smaller FWD-based pickup thingy, like a Ram 700 or Chevy Tornado”

          Be waiting for a long time. In current climate not economically viable

      • 0 avatar

        2.4 4cylinder is a Diesel engine., not a Petrol engine.

    • 0 avatar

      The Renault Talisman is sold in France, is a good looking mid size sedan. Perhaps it, or its replacement, could be sold as a Mitsubishi?

  • avatar
    Clueless Economist

    Or go back to this . . .

  • avatar
    Steve Biro

    God, I hope any new Mitsubishis don’t look like Nissans. Sharing the platform and key mechanical bits, fine. But even the old Lancer looks better than anything in the Nissan stable now. Ditto the Outlander Sport.

  • avatar

    Nissan has been pretty clear that they won’t give Mitsubishi badge engineered products for North America that are sold by Nissan in North America. They are not going to get a Sentra or Altima clone. Nissan has publicly stated that Renault vehicles may be an option for Mitsubishi to sell in North America. Mitsubishi may sell the electric ZOE in it’s lineup.
    Unfortunately Renault has no sedans. Mitsu will have to graft on some trunks.

  • avatar

    Can we just hurry up and get to the point where they sell their brand name and dealer network to some Chinese consortium? We all know how the story is going to end for them.

  • avatar

    I can see a pickup happening…
    – Need a low price: use old Nissan platform/tooling
    – Need to attract Mitsu customers: cladding, spoiler, free roll of duct tape
    Look for it in fall ’18.

  • avatar

    A pickup truck made in Nissan’s American factory is just what Mitsubishi needs.

    I think it is safe to say that Nissan will not sell the Navara as the next generation Frontier in the U.S., otherwise they would have brought it over by now. Nissan/Mitsubishi will probably keep selling the current Frontier in the US and the current Navara and Triton overseas until the end of the latter two’s lifecycle sometime after 2020 and then replace all three pickups with a single new model for sale in all markets, the Mitsubishi version being badge-engineered. I cannot see Nissan having the resources to develop two separate mid-size trucks. Hopefully, the new mid-size truck will be closer in size to the last U.S. Ranger rather than the current Colorado.

    Mitsubishi ought to skip the sedan, given the rapidly declining sales of sedans and the large amount of competition in the sedan market. Instead, Mitsubishi should bring over the Delica 4×4 minivan and the Pajero Sport body-on-frame SUV since there is little competition in those product categories and light trucks are what the consumer wants. If the U.S. is Mitsubishi’s biggest market, it needs to bring in more product so that it can make more sales.

    • 0 avatar

      In a word No. Bit like combining a GMC Canyon with a Silverado at the end of their lifecycle. Appeal to two different markets
      They do have the resources and have two different vehicles currently selling well. Renault/ Nissan/ Mitsubishi are Globally No2
      US is not Mitsubishi’s biggest market

      • 0 avatar

        It would be more like GM buying FCA and replacing the Ram pickup with a rebadged Silverado to conserve resources while maintaining Ram as a separate division. Exactly what GM does with Chevrolet and GMC now.

        It would be a very poor use of resources for Nissan to develop two entirely separate mid-size trucks that would compete against each other. Extremely redundant. A much better use of resources would be for Nissan and Mitsubishi to develop a separate product, such as a mid-size BOF SUV.

        If Mitsubishi does remain a separate brand, then the relationship between Nissan and Mitsubishi will be like the relationship between Hyundai and Kia, where both companies’ vehicles are based on the same underlying platform but have different sheet metal and perhaps powertrain options and suspension tweaks.

        • 0 avatar

          It is not Nissan , it is Renault calling the shots. No they do not compete against each other, you already have a situation where identical Pickups GMC and Chevrolet compete against each other.
          BOF SUV’s are in the pipeline. Yes it will be like Hyundai/Kia

  • avatar

    No idea why Nissan is bothering with them, Mitsu should just exit the U.S. market like Isuzu and Suzuki did.

    Of the vast number of cars on the market why would anyone chose a Mitsubishi? The only thing relevant was the Evo and the Outlander sport was OK.

  • avatar

    Can’t believe no one’s said this but Mitsubishi should be made into Nissan’s Subaru competitor. Every vehicle (other than the Mirage) should only be available with AWD, and the Mitsubishi showroom should be the only place you can get an AWD Sentra (Lancer, with jacked up Crosstrek competitor) or Altima (Galant).

    • 0 avatar

      Perhaps, but Subaru also sells on long term reliability and durability, and high resale value. I’ll just be kind say and neither Mitsu nor Nissan has much of a rep in either of those departments.

    • 0 avatar

      Subaru does well in the snow belt, elsewhere, not so much. I honestly don’t realize they have a new car out until I drive up north or see it on the internet, where as a facelift Fusion drove by me on I-10 two days after I read about it online. My point is, Subaru has very little, if any, market share in states where snow is highly unlikely.

      The extra weight and complexity of standard AWD just drags the car down in places where there is really no practical use for AWD.

  • avatar

    If Nissan has a nice, potentially-lucrative compact pickup somehwere in their brand stable they’d like to sell here, why waste it on Mitsubishi? Why not sell it as a Nissan? (Even if it’s a Mitsubishi elsewhere.) Why rebadge Nissan (or Renault) cars as Mitsubishis? What’s the point?

    The dealer network is so small, neglected, and decrepit, I’m just not seeing it.

  • avatar

    You can easily recognize a new Mitsubishi because it’s typically a 15 year old design that’s gone through four or five front and rear styling updates.

  • avatar

    @Steph Willems
    Get it right. You make so many mistakes.
    “Overseas, Mitsubishi sells the Triton/L200 — basically, a rebadged Nissan Navara ”
    That is is like saying a Ford F-150 is a rebadged Chevrolet Silverado
    They are currently and will be in the future two different vehicles.

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