More Dealers, Lease Products Coming to Mitsubishi, but No Pickups Just Yet

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems

Now part of an alliance with cash and platforms to toss around, Mitsubishi’s growing bolder in its quest to remind buyers that it’s not about to disappear from the American automotive landscape. Buyers, of course, are already helping the brand regain its footing. February’s U.S. sales were the highest since the heady and ominous year of 2007 (up 18.8 percent, year over year).

Through the end of February, U.S. sales are up 23.4 percent over the same period in 2017.

Having crawled out of the five-figure sales number nightmare that plagued the brand over the past decade, Mitsubishi dealers met in Las Vegas recently to discuss the near future. Some requests were granted, but a long-standing demand went unfulfilled.

The good news for dealers is that those that already exist are performing better than in recent years. Speaking at the National Automobile Dealers Association meetup, soon-to-retire North American COO Don Swearingen said the number of dealers selling less than 10 vehicle per month now stands at the lowest point in 10 years. Dealer profitability has also reached the highest point in that time frame, he added.

To move more cars off lots, new lots are coming — 20 to 30 in the coming year. The brand also plans to satisfy the 30-plus percent of Americans who prefer leasing, dealers told Automotive News. A lack of lease products was apparently one of the dealer network’s biggest gripes; to correct this, Mitsubishi plant to work with financial partner Ally Financial to rustle up some competitive deals.

For added visibility, the brand’s ad budget will rise to its highest level since 2007 this year. If you’re like this author, you’ve grown annoyed with the number of Eclipse Cross commercials airing on network TV, but don’t expect those to go away anytime soon. The Eclipse Cross compact crossover is basically it for new product, at least until the brand works out a platform-sharing plan with its alliance partners. Expect the marriage to bear kids in the coming decade.

What dealers want to see, however, is not another CUV (even though it would almost certainly boost volume), but a pickup. Ever since the slow-selling, Dodge-Dakota-based Raider disappeared in 2009, the brand hasn’t fielded a pickup truck in the U.S. market. Overseas, Mitsu is well-known for its L200 and Triton midsize trucks.

Clearly, dealers expect great things from new CEO Fred Diaz, formerly of Fiat Chrysler’s Ram division and Nissan’s truck division. Great, trucky things. Still, that longed-for product — which will surely share its architecture with a Nissan product, if built — remains a ghost. Diaz didn’t promise the dealers anything in Las Vegas. Hope springs eternal, however, and the dealers know Diaz is their biggest ally in making a truck happen.

“Getting a pickup is something our dealers have wished for years,” Swearingen told Automotive News. “So they were very glad to see Fred standing there in the meeting.”

[Image: Mitsubishi]

Steph Willems
Steph Willems

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  • WallMeerkat WallMeerkat on Apr 03, 2018

    Mitsubishi L200 is well regarded as a workhorse in Europe. However possibly a little small for US tastes. Strangely, Fiat - despite owning RAM and Jeep - sell a rebadged L200 as their European market pickup.

  • CincyDavid CincyDavid on Apr 03, 2018

    I made a lot of money 15+ years ago chasing Mitsu buyers who defaulted on their loans...I did door-knock collections and really enjoyed it. I simply wouldn't/couldn't see myself in anything they build. I really associate this brand with low-credit-score buyers and don't want to be associated with them. They're even worse than Nissan in that regard. I will be curious to see what kind of lease deals they are able to cobble together with Ally Fin'l. I have to imagine that residuals are terrible.

  • JK I grew up with Dodge trucks in the US, and now live in Turin, Italy, the home of Fiat. I don't think Italians view this as an Italian company either. There are constant news articles and protests about how stalantis is moving operations out of Italy. Jeep is strangely popular here though. I think last time I looked at stelantis's numbers, Jeep was the only thing saving them from big big problems.
  • Bd2 Oh yeah, funny how Trumpers (much less the Orange Con, himself) are perfectly willing to throw away the Constitution...
  • Bd2 Geeze, Anal sure likes to spread his drivelA huge problem was Fisher and his wife - who overspent when they were flush with cash and repeatedly did things ad hoc and didn't listen to their employees (who had more experience when it came to auto manufacturing, engineering, etc).
  • Tassos My Colleague Mike B bought one of these (the 300 SEL, same champagne color) new around June 1990. I thought he paid $50k originally but recently he told me it was $62k. At that time my Accord 1990 Coupe LX cost new, all included, $15k. So today the same car means $150k for the S class and $35k-40k for the Accord. So those %0 or 62k , these were NOT worthless, Idiot Joe Biden devalued dollars, so he paid AN ARM AND A LEG. And he babied the car, he really loved it, despite its very weak I6 engine with a mere 177 HP and 188 LBFT, and kept it forever. By the time he asked me to drive it (to take him to the dealer because his worthless POS Buick Rainier "SUV" needed expensive repairs (yes, it was a cheap Buick but he had to shell out thousands), the car needed a lot of suspension work, it drove like an awful clunker. He ended up donating it after 30 years or so. THIS POS is no different, and much older. Its CHEAPSKATE owner should ALSO donate it to charity instead of trying to make a few measly bucks off its CARCASS. Pathetic!
  • RHD The re-paint looks like it was done with a four-inch paintbrush. As far as VWs go, it's a rebadged Seat... which is still kind of a VW, made in Mexico from a Complete Knock-Down kit. 28 years in Mexico being driven like a flogged mule while wearing that ridiculous rear spoiler is a tough life, but it has actually survived... It's unique (to us), weird, funky (very funky), and certainly not worth over five grand plus the headaches of trying to get it across the border and registered at the local DMV.