Mitsubishi Motors Is Gearing Up to Finally Get Its Act Together

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky

Poor Mitsubishi. Its strange history has ushered in memorable models, an important alliance with Chrysler, success on the World Rally stage, a partnership with Jackie Chan, an epic fuel economy scandal, and building debt that eventually turned it into the sad creature we know today. But there is nothing to say it has to stay mired in that ugly situation. It’s getting ready to crawl out of the dumpster and will be getting plenty of help along the way.

The Renault-Nissan Alliance, which now includes Mitsubishi Motors, announced a reformatting of its executive lineup on Thursday — adding new areas, such as quality and car servicing, where all three companies will work in tandem. Bent on efficiency savings, the Alliance said it will seek to extend its convergence in the areas of purchasing, engineering, manufacturing and supply chains next month (when Mitsubishi also gets its new CEO for North America). The ultimate goal here is to maximize profits that can then used for advanced research and development.

Where does this leave Mitsubishi? In a much better position than it once was. Despite initial concerns that Renault and Nissan would attempt to relegate the brand to Asia, where it’s strongest, the Alliance opted to improve the company’s U.S. dealership network and grow sales by 30 percent to 130,000 units per year.

That apparently does not mean stripping any of the brands of their identity, either. According to Reuters, Alliance chairman Carlos Ghosn said the key is to “turbo-charge the performance and growth of its member companies, while preserving the autonomy and distinct strategies of Renault, Nissan and Mitsubishi Motors.”

“The CEO of each company is in charge of its own business, that is the bottom line. This is not about change of responsibility, it’s about acceleration of the synergies that are not possible without working together,” Ghosn added. “Everything we are doing here is about efficiency.”

Mitsubishi may already be on the road to recovery. It has seen gradually improving sales in North America for the last five years. The brand’s stock valuation has also recovered since collapsing in April of 2016, after news of its 25-year-long fuel economy scandal broke. Mitsubishi Motors may still be a shadow of its former self, but something is starting to materialize as things improve. That doesn’t mean the Lancer Evolution is poised for a return next year, nor does it suggest its a big change in its lackluster North American lineup is right around the corner.

However, more money will eventually make those items a possibility. The Alliance has already unveiled a 2022 mid-term strategy targeting increasing annual “synergies” of more than 10 billion euros ($12.2 billion). That’s up from 5 billion ($6.1 billion) in 2016, when Nissan initially acquired a controlling interest Mitsubishi.

[Image: Mitsubishi Motors]

Matt Posky
Matt Posky

A staunch consumer advocate tracking industry trends and regulation. Before joining TTAC, Matt spent a decade working for marketing and research firms based in NYC. Clients included several of the world’s largest automakers, global tire brands, and aftermarket part suppliers. Dissatisfied with the corporate world and resentful of having to wear suits everyday, he pivoted to writing about cars. Since then, that man has become an ardent supporter of the right-to-repair movement, been interviewed on the auto industry by national radio broadcasts, driven more rental cars than anyone ever should, participated in amateur rallying events, and received the requisite minimum training as sanctioned by the SCCA. Handy with a wrench, Matt grew up surrounded by Detroit auto workers and managed to get a pizza delivery job before he was legally eligible. He later found himself driving box trucks through Manhattan, guaranteeing future sympathy for actual truckers. He continues to conduct research pertaining to the automotive sector as an independent contractor and has since moved back to his native Michigan, closer to where the cars are born. A contrarian, Matt claims to prefer understeer — stating that front and all-wheel drive vehicles cater best to his driving style.

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  • Inside Looking Out Inside Looking Out on Mar 01, 2018

    Japanese companies die hard. They will help each other to survive.

    • See 3 previous
    • Threeer Threeer on Mar 02, 2018

      @highdesertcat As long as you don't buy a next-gen Focus...or Fusion...or Fiesta...or Ecosport... As for Mitsu, I want them to succeed. Really. My first car was a transplant (1978 Plymouth Arrow) that I still remember with great fondness. My parents owned (for a time) a Mitsu Lancer in Germany in the early 90s. And up until last year, I had a 2004 Lancer Sportback Ralliart that was one of the best cars I'd owned (just wish it had been offered in a manual trans). Here's hoping they pull it together, though the words "Renault" and "Alliance" in the same sentence do not bring back great memories!

  • Tankinbeans Tankinbeans on Mar 03, 2018

    I was honestly surprised Mitsubishi still existed. There is only 1 dealer that I know of in the Twin Cities (Minneapolis/St. Paul metroplex). I'd assumed we'd be getting some French captive imports with the Renault connection, but I guess we'll find out. I'm honestly ambivalent about them since I've never owned one. I drove a diamond-star Eclipse one night because the owner got himself drunk and I wasn't about to ride home with him, and it didn't really leave much of an impression on me.

  • Bob65688581 We bought zillions of German cars, despite knowing about WWII slave labor. Refusing to buy something for ideological reasons is foolish.Both the US and the EU have imposed tariffs, so the playing field is level. I'll buy the best price/quality, regardless of nationality.Another interesting question would be "Would you buy one of the many new European moderate-price EVs?" but of course they aren't sold here.Third interesting question: "Why won't Stellantis sell its best products in America?"
  • Freshblather No. Worried there will be malicious executable code built into the cars motherboard that could disable the Chinese cars in the event of hostilities between the west and China.
  • Bd2 Absolutely not - do not want to support a fascist, totalitarian regime.
  • SCE to AUX The original Capri was beautiful. The abomination from the 90s was no Capri, and neither is this.It looks good, but too similar to a Polestar. And what's with the whacked price?
  • Rover Sig Absolutely not. Ever.
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