Don't Expect Any Rebadged Nissans or Co-developed Cars in Mitsubishi Showrooms Anytime Soon

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
dont expect any rebadged nissans or co developed cars in mitsubishi showrooms anytime

Last year, Nissan answered Mitsubishi’s prayers by purchasing a majority stake in the struggling Japanese automaker. The company had started out strong in North America at the dawn of the 20th century, with U.S. sales topping 345,000 in 2002. Six years later, volume had fallen by nearly 85 percent.

Mitsubishi was a dead brand walking, at least on these shores.

Now adopted by a wealthy parent, Mitsubishi has access to Nissan’s technology and platforms, but don’t expect the two automakers to start joint production of new products anytime soon. Only two new models — one with a horrible name, the other a long-delayed niche vehicle — will appear in showrooms before the end of the decade.

Still, Mitsubishi is planning for a 30-percent bump in U.S. sales by early 2020. Product isn’t the sole player in the company’s new growth strategy.

As outlined in Mitsubishi’s Drive for Growth three-year plan, released this week, the company has big expectations for sales and revenue. It projects a 6-percent operating profit margin by the dawn of the 2020s, up from 0.3 percent last year. Annual capital expenditures should rise by 60 percent by fiscal year 2019, with R&D expenditures growing 50 percent.

According to Automotive News, antitrust concerns between the two automakers means both companies will keep their distance for the time being. Putting the brand of a more solid footing in the U.S. will be Mitsubishi’s responsibility.

While new product — 11 new or redesigned vehicles, to be exact — will appear during this time frame, only two unfamiliar nameplates will make the journey to America. The unfashionably late Outlander PHEV is already a hit in Europe, but the company’s North American operation only expects to sell 3,000 to 4,000 of the plug-in hybrid crossovers each year after it arrives for the 2018.

That leaves the 2018 Eclipse Cross, a retro-named take on the compact crossover, to serve as the largest new product draw. Jointly developed products won’t appear until the coming decade.

As Mitsubishi readies both vehicles, there’s plenty of work being done at the dealer level. “We will re-energize our dealership network,” the company’s chief operating officer, Trevor Mann, claims. “We are reviewing our incentive plans, both to attract new dealers and to encourage existing ones to achieve better sales.”

Earlier this month, Mitsubishi Motors North America executive vice president Don Swearingen said he’d be okay with more of his company’s vehicles heading to fleets. While not a huge profit generator, it would nonetheless boost the company’s volume.

Under the new plan, U.S. annual sales volume would rise to 130,000 vehicles within three years. Mitsubishi sales rose to a post-recession high of 96,267 vehicles in 2016 — an 81-percent climb since 2009. Over the first nine months of 2017, U.S. sales are 6.5 percent higher than last year.

[Image: Mitsubishi Motors]

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  • SCE to AUX SCE to AUX on Oct 22, 2017

    FWIW, Mitsubishi is advertising very heavily on the radio in the Pittsburgh area, from at least two different dealers. One of them is a standalone Mitsubishi dealer. Imagine being that for a minute.

  • Lorenzo Lorenzo on Oct 24, 2017

    Aw, I was hoping for a Sentra-based Galant, with the rough sounding Mitsubishi 2.4 four. The 1.8 Nissan four is a dog.

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