By on February 28, 2018

Fred Diaz

Fred Diaz, who once headed the Ram brand before Nissan tapped him to lead the company’s truck division, has been put in charge of Mitsubishi’s North American operations.

While I’d love to run a headline saying something to the effect of “Mitsu Raids Corporate Cupboard for a New Raider,” I think the chances of a full-sized, badge-engineered Diamond Star pickup are somewhere between nil and nada, no matter the background of the brand’s new CEO.

Diaz will take the reins from Ryujiro Kobashi, who will return to the mothership in Japan after overseeing the brand in this country for four years. Reportedly, Kobashi will assume a role in overseas sales in Tokyo.

Diaz joined Nissan in 2013 when the company poached him from Ram and installed him as its senior vice president for American sales and marketing. He was later asked to step up the automaker’s efforts in the light truck arena as Division Vice President and General Manager of North America Trucks & Light Commercial Vehicles at Nissan North America. His new appointment is effective April 1.

Becoming head of Mitsubishi on April Fool’s Day. Hmm…

This author has had the privilege of meeting Mr. Diaz at a truck event. An affable guy with a quick grin, the man knows his trucks. He oversaw the creation of Ram as a standalone brand in 2009 as well as the launch of the refreshed 2013 Ram 1500 during that model year. He started at Chrysler in 1989.

Commenting on the appointment, Chief Operating Officer Trevor Mann stated, “The United States is a strategic market for Mitsubishi Motors in our Drive for Growth plan. With his in-depth background and experience in North America, Fred has a strong ability to proactively engage with Mitsubishi Motors’ dealers and customers as we aim to expand our dealership network, enhance our brand, and drive sales growth.”

In October of last year, Mitsubishi announced a three-year plan titled “Drive for Growth” in which it aims to improve the company’s U.S. dealership network and grow sales by 30 percent to 130,000 units per year.

All-New Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross Compact SUV - Image: Mitsubishi

To put that in perspective, Mitsubishi’s U.S. deliveries have risen annually since 2012, including a gain last year that pushed the brand above 100,000 units for the first time since 2007. In 2002, at the height of Fast and Furious mania, the brand sold 345,111 machines. Dealerships in the Great White North contributed about 20,000 annual sales to Mitsubishi’s coffers every year since 2008.

For the 2018 model year, Mitsubishi has the Mirage and Mirage G4 to show customers who are shopping for a car. Those interested in crossovers will be pointed to either the seven-passenger Outlander, the five-passenger Outlander Sport, or the new Eclipse Cross. Both the i-MiEV and Lancer have vanished for 2018.

[Images: Mitsubishi Motors]

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45 Comments on “New CEO Named for Mitsubishi North America...”


  • avatar
    redapple

    Good luck to him. Wouldnt consider a Mitsu under any circumstances.
    Bet he wishes he stayed at Ram.

    High % of their buyers are sub 600 fica.

    Dead brand walking.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      I used to think the same thing, but that “dead brand walking” has seen sales rise 79% since 2012.

      Now that Mitsubishi is part of Nissan, I think their fortunes may rise even further.

      If he stayed at RAM, how much more could he accomplish? Mitsubishi has lots of possibilities. I wouldn’t consider any of their products now, but if they produced the right niche thing, I might.

      The key for Mitsubishi is to not try and compete in the same space as everyone else.

      For me, a true “dead brand walking” is Mazda, with stagnant sales volume for the past 20 years.

    • 0 avatar
      Sub-600

      I bought an Eclipse back in the ‘90s and the first thing my friends asked was “Are you having financial problems?”, lol. I said no, I just like the car. I’ve always had really good credit but that’s why I use Sub-600 for a screen name on different sites. They made decent cars with a great warranty at one point, but they were also an option for people who were coming off repos and bankruptcy. I loved my Eclipse, I gave it to my daughter and she ran it into the ground, the engine still ran like a top though.

    • 0 avatar
      ect

      “Bet he wishes he stayed at Ram.”

      Maybe, but never underestimate the allure of the corner office and the scope for accomplishment it brings.

  • avatar
    Middle-Aged Miata Man

    Despite the job titles, Diaz’s career trajectory appears to be sliding decidedly downward…

  • avatar
    gtem

    I wonder if bringing in a ‘truck guy” could posibly have enough pull for Mitsubishi to bring over the Triton or Pajero Sport (Triton based midsize 4Runner competitor).

    Curiously enough my top candidate in my cheap small truck shopping right now is a tidy little ’90 Mighty Max (2.4L, rwd, stick, no power steering but has A/C). 1600lb payload rating!

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      I’ll keep my fingers crossed.

      Bring back the Montero (Land Cruiser sized) and without lots of luxury features. I’d be happy to pay 1/2 the North American Land Cruiser’s stratospheric MSRP too. ;-)

    • 0 avatar

      I want REGULAR MONTERO.

      • 0 avatar
        gtem

        I’d see new gen IVs sitting on dealer lots in Mexico, sharp looking trucks.

        If you’re inkling for a Montero substitute here and now in the US, I’d point you to an Armada SV with the fat sidewalled 18 inch alloys and very reasonable price. IRS just like the Montero, and forever playing second fiddle to the Land Cruiser globally (just like the Montero).

        • 0 avatar

          Yep, I think Armada is a lot of vehicle for the cash.

          • 0 avatar
            gtem

            I just want to motivate other people to buy one so I can do my small part of helping Nissan for throwing us a bone with even giving us the global Patrol in the US (albeit in somewhat compromised form in terms of offroad gear). In a few years I’d love to scoop one up myself. It’s gotta have that quilted grey velour with orange piping though, that’s a must.

          • 0 avatar

            I wish they made the active suspension control the QX80 gets an option in the Armada.

            PS That old Titan Armada was really pretty bad.

          • 0 avatar
            PrincipalDan

            gtem – has someone like “ARB” or “Detroit Locker” come up with a locking diff for the US spec Armada?

          • 0 avatar
            gtem

            I wouldn’t be surprised if ARB didn’t have something cooked up, they’re Aussie based and have had the Y62 body Patrol since 2011, and historically Patrols have been popular offroading/”touring” platforms. The American companies not so much.

  • avatar

    “He started at Chrysler in 1989.”

    So he’s always worked for Mitsubishi. ;)

  • avatar
    tallguy130

    Every time I see anything about Mitsubishi I am genuinely surprised they will sell cars in North America. I don’t know anyone who would even halfway consider them.

    • 0 avatar
      gtem

      “I don’t know anyone who would even halfway consider them.”

      That might point to the sort of “bubble” of the company that you keep. I’m no different, but in my old neighborhood it was not uncommon at all to see a new Mitsubishi on paper tags. Well that and plenty of blue-smoke belching Galants on steelies.

  • avatar
    mrentropy

    Bring back the 3000GT.

  • avatar
    slavuta

    Why is dude smiling? If anything, this is serious demotion. “You will head sales of 5 cars!” WOW!

  • avatar
    IBx1

    If you thought *your* job sucked…

  • avatar
    zamoti

    I don’t care much for Mitsu as a brand given that they don’t have any compelling cars these days but MAN what is with everyone giving this guy a hard time for his new job?!
    He’s the CEO of a car company. Not a great car company, but are any of you a CEO of anything?! Sheesh!

  • avatar
    Fred

    I had a Mighty Max pickup that was great, so I’m sympathetic to Mitsubishi. Still without product Mr Diaz is going to have a tough time.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    @Fred–I had one as well, great truck.

    • 0 avatar
      gtem

      Curious to hear any and all feedback on Mighty Maxes seeing as I’m going to check one out on Saturday!

      • 0 avatar
        Fred

        Suppose to change the timing belt at 50,000. Mine broke at 50,100 miles! Fortuantly it’s a non-interference engine so no broken valves. That was the only problem I had with the little truck. Sold it for a Chevy truck with AC since I was moving to SE Texas.

        • 0 avatar
          gtem

          This one curiously enough has functioning A/C, but no power steering from the factory! yes I’ve read up a bit on the 4G46 motor and the old-school (short) t belt intervals. Thankfully belt kits are cheap as chips, and I can’t imagine it’s very hard to wrench on, the only nuance being the counterbalance shaft is driven by its own separate belt that likewise gets replaced. The other surprising thing is the hefty 1600lb payload rating, for comparison my ’97 Ranger with similar specs (reg cab rwd 4 banger) had an 1200lb payload. I wonder if the Mitsu rides stiffer.

          • 0 avatar
            Fred

            I had a stripper truck, small engine, no rear bumper. I bought it over a more expensive Toyota because it came with a 5-speed vs 4. Right side mirror and day-night mirror and carpet.

  • avatar
    roadscholar

    Just bought a 2012 Evo MR with 78k miles. SST trans lost 2, 4, and 6 two days after I bought it so it’s now a work in progress. I still love it and it’s the most visceral 4-door sedan I’ve ever owned. I hope Mitsubishi still has some of the passionate folks that built that car.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    @Fred–I bought a 85 Mitsubishi Mighty Max used in 1987 with 30k miles. Mine had a 4 speed manual with no radio, no rear bumper but it had AC. I bought it at a Cadillac dealership in Houston which was using it to deliver auto parts because they could not sell it (the bed did not have a dent or scratch). I got it for $3,500 and added a rear bumper, bed liner, and stereo with a tape player. Great little truck I had it for over 14 years. My problem with Mitsubishi was getting parts for it that were not available at an auto parts store. A few times I got luck and got parts at a Dodge dealership since its twin was a Dodge D-50.

  • avatar
    HotPotato

    I like the Eclipse Cross. It looks like a 1980s Italian show car outside and a Lexus CUV inside, and it’s powered by a small-displacement turbo that should meet peoples’ conflicting demands for torque and economy. I’ve only seen Canadian-market reviews so far, but they’re very favorable, particularly regarding handling. If they can keep the price under control, they may have a winnah.

    I’m smitten with the Outlander PHEV. It fulfills my fantasy of a roomy AWD SUV that silently wafts through the city on waves of electric torque, then transforms into a range-anxiety-free dinosaur-burner on the highway. It’s imperfect for sure — high price, low electric range, low post-electric MPG — yet it’s better in all those respects than competitors costing 20 grand more.

    The Outlander Sport is cheap and butch-cute and adequately powered in all but base trim; it’s a bit of a sleeper hit even in my area, almost an hour’s drive from a Mitsubishi dealer.

    Mitsubishi’s revival may be dependent on these right-sized CUVs…but that happens to be the big growth area in the market right now. They might just be okay.

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