By on March 1, 2018

mitsubishi outlander

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]

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23 Comments on “Mitsubishi Motors Is Gearing Up to Finally Get Its Act Together...”

  • avatar

    Honestly Mitsubishi could probably pick up some easy sales in the sub-prime area by simply selling some Galant-badged Altimas and Sentras. I’d love to see them climb out of the bottom-feeder market but in the near term picking up an extra 30k annual sales with minimal development costs, selling a cheap and roomy sedan that’s actually highway friendly (ie Sentra/Altima) would get them there.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      Mitsubishi seems to be more popular in Australia than the US. I don’t know why, but I do believe Mitsubishi has placed itself between Chinese and Korean cars and is not viewed as a genuine “Japanese” quality vehicle, sort of like the FCA of Asia.

      Pricing is Mitsubishi main attraction in Australia, but you get what you pay for. I would buy a Chinese Foton Tunland pickup over a Mitsubishi Triton pickup.

      FCA is similar here as well. FCA is viewed as the “poor” mans choice with Mitsubishi. A Jeep Grand Cherokee is not viewed as prestigious as a Prado, Everest, etc. It’s viewed as the cheapest option for a midsize SUV, like a Kia Sorento or Hyundai Santa Fe.

      But, yet they are quite popular here, I suppose we have less FCA here than the US, so Mitsubishi will be dealing with the bottom end against the likes of FCA.

      • 0 avatar

        Australians are partial to Mitsubishi because of the storage space. Even an Outlander Sport has room for several pots of vegemite, a case of Foster’s, a boomerang, and two dingoes.

        • 0 avatar
          Big Al from Oz

          I agree to a degree. Mitsubishi do sell quite a few smaller vehicles.

          But, the Outlander is up against the RAV 4, Small Mazda CUVs, etc. What the Outlander offers is good pricing compared to it’s competition.

          I would think in Australia utes (pickups) are the biggest single segment, even out selling the US proportionally.

          The average utes will carry 100 cartons of Forster’s (not that you would drink that swill in Australia) or tow around 350 cartons of Forters with a few in the bed.

  • avatar

    It’s ok for an automaker to make plain, boring, outdated cars, but they should be reliable if that’s their angle. Mitsubishi had a blip of actual and perceived reliability around the ’90s and then they gave up; buying one is the only way to make a losing bet on a Japanese car. Toyota used an outdated 1.8L and 4AT in their Corolla for decades because it was solid, proven, and reliable. Mitsubishi uses an engine in their cars and I don’t know much about it besides that you can’t count on it.

    • 0 avatar

      Have they been unreliable?

      “Mitsubishi uses an engine in their cars and I don’t know much about it besides that you can’t count on it.”

      You can’t?

      I’d say they make a rock solid motor, just not the most advanced one in terms of power or fuel economy or NVH.

    • 0 avatar

      Mitsubishi finished one place behind Subaru in dependability. Subaru 167 problems per 100 vehicles, Mitsubishi 173 problems per 100 vehicles. Subaru is a loser by your logic.
      Mitsubishi makes reliable vehicles. Credit to Mitsubishi for reliability and durability considering many of their buyers are lower income, credit challenged and value (cheap) buyers that don’t maintain the vehicles.

      • 0 avatar
        Big Al from Oz

        I think Mitsubishi have a credibility issue and have always been on the outer in the Japanese vehicle competition, like FCA is in the US.

        I will say though you pay for what you get. A Mitsubishi Triton pickup is nowhere near the same league as the other Asian and US branded pickups. It just isn’t as heavily constructed. If you use it for lighter work the Mitsubishi will last, but many work them to hard and they break.

    • 0 avatar

      I would disagree heartily. They may have not been trendsetters of late, but Mitsubishi products are reliable. The 2.0l and 2.4L engines ( side note: these were initially shared design with Hyundai and Chrysler but when Chrysler split with Mitsubishi in the DC era, Mitsubishi and Hyundai developed their engine on their own from Chrysler) powering the majority of their lineup have been proven. They have a decent AWC system. The Mirage (while often a punchline for many auto journalists) has about as basic and reliable a drive train needs to be.

      I do believe they suffer from a string of poor decisions that relegate them as “bottom feeders” in the market. Their disastrous no payments for a year promo in the early aughts damn near killed the company. Chrysler splitting from Mitsu during the Daimler Chrysler era also hurt their coffers (similar to Mazda and Ford’s split).

      Mitsubishi survives on being a discount player. They sell reliable, good enough cars in hugely competitive marketplace.

  • avatar

    “Poor Mitsubishi”

    this is not true. Rich Mitsubishi. The problem was that Mitsu was doing too many things and they never became a great car company, like lets say Toyota. Did you hear about Toyota heavy or planes, or even motorcycles? Toyota concentrates on cars and this is why their cars are great, reliable appliances everyone loves.

    • 0 avatar

      Mitsubishi Motors and Mitsubishi heavy industries are not the same company. With interlocking ownership in Japan, it’s hard to keep track, but Mitsu as a car company is more like a loose confederation than a single automaker, with banking interests having maybe too much say in how it operates. Bankers like safe, steady-income investments, especially in a high capital, low margin business like cars.

      The big thing with the Renault-Nissan “synergies” is going to be mechanical sameness that may be good or bad, depending on the quality of the parts. The next big thing with the R-N hookup, at least in America, may be yet another maker vying for the sub-prime auto market. This may be exactly the wrong time to be diving into that area.

  • avatar

    Mitsubishi is profitable in USA and Canada. Mitsubishi has increased sales in North America year over year.
    Advisable to move slow and steady to improve their products and dealerships and increase sales.

  • avatar

    I had an Eclipse and the thing was bulletproof. The body finally died of cancer after nine years of road salt, but the engine was still strong after 150k miles. Just scheduled maintenance, brakes and tires.

  • avatar

    The Renault Nissan Alliance sounds like the worst car on the lot.

  • avatar

    Mitsubishi’s fall to low volumes, near-irrelevance seems self-inflicted. I had very good experience with Mitsubishi products last century – a ’92 Expo SP and an ’85 Dodge Colt Vista (Mitsubishi Chariot), both bought new. Well built, dependable, able to carry my rather large brood around in comfort, and there wasn’t anything on the market like them without up-sizing to a minivan. That ’92 Expo stayed looking good, driving very well, and reliable until my ex-wife sold it at 212k miles in 2007. When I looked to replace the Expo in the late-’90s or so I found absolutely nothing (well, except maybe the Eclipse and EVO for me only) that would suit my needs and was in the least bit interesting. The world had moved on but Mitsubishi did not and, further, did not keep offering anything Expo/Chariot-like, vehicles which arguably were SUV’s just as this segment of the market became popular. It also seemed that what was offered was Honda-tinny and inexpensively (read: cheaply) trimmed. A shame.

  • avatar

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

    • 0 avatar

      The governments of Japan, South Korea and Germany are very heavily vested in their national companies. They own the majority of shares. Such companies rarely die. They’ve got their national governments backing them. They can’t fail.

      Closest thing we’ve seen to that in the US was the nationalization of GM in 2009 and the billions upon billions of dollars of wasted taxpayer money that was poured into GM to keep it on life-support.

      When the US gov’t seized Chrysler at the same time as it seized GM, at least the US gov’t had enough sense to liquidate Chrysler’s carcass to Fiat, along with a $1.3Billion bribe.

      But not so GM. For political reasons the US gov’t chose to put the full faith and credit of the US behind GM’s carcass to keep GM operating due to extreme political pressure exercised by the UAW who had put “their guy” in the White House. UAW pensions guaranteed!

      Is it any wonder that so many American taxpayers have turned their backs on GM?

      Hey, if you simply HAVE to Buy American, there is only one left: FORD.

      • 0 avatar

        The UAW pension fund was too big to fail according to GM Chairman Barack Obama. Was Solyndra a union shop?

      • 0 avatar
        Big Al from Oz

        And the US government didn’t heavily invest in the Big Three during the GFC?

        Come on man, again look at this objectively.

      • 0 avatar

        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!

  • avatar

    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.

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