By on April 2, 2018

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

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]

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22 Comments on “More Dealers, Lease Products Coming to Mitsubishi, but No Pickups Just Yet...”

  • avatar

    They need what others don’t have, a small truck, simple in design with a 2 door and a 4 door. There should be some plain Jane trim up to a performance trim.

    • 0 avatar

      I bet that’s just what Mistubishi needs, a low margin small truck expected to have 1/2 ton capacity(since you want 4 doors as an option) and multiple frame and cab configurations that gets heavily penalized for its short wheelbase and footprint.

      How did Toyota, GM, Ford, FCA, Honda, VW, Subaru, Hyundai, et al not jump on this gold mine?


  • avatar

    I hope they’re smart enough to put those new lots somewhere that there isn’t a Mitsubishi Dealer within X00 miles. Give them a chance to break into new markets.

    Advertising would help as well. I can’t remember seeing many Mitsubishi ads.

  • avatar

    All for naught with interest rates rising and subprime buyers getting knocked out of the new car market. Unless they go back to that 0-0-0 financing they tried in the early aughts.

    • 0 avatar

      But even with that 0-0-0 financing, there still is nothing desirable about a Mitsubishi product that would have would-be buyers tripping over themselves to get to a dealership.

  • avatar

    The 80’s really are back. The Eclipse Cross looks like an early 80’s Mistubishi Mirage (aka Dodge Colt)

  • avatar

    Lancer Evo C 2500 5th wheel edition!

  • avatar

    The ancient Mitsu AWC system is still better than 90% of what’s out there.

  • avatar

    Funny, a Mexico-spec L200 passed me on the 405 a few days ago. The only real thought I had was that its bed is probably too small to haul the BMW K-bike I happened to be carrying in the back of my 71 Datsun pickup at that time.

  • avatar

    Mirages are actually REALLY popular with the Geritol set down here in God’s Waiting Room. Especially in that pinkish purple color.

    Probably a much better choice than the baby-blue ’76 Vega wagon that was my Great Grandparents last car. Had it 20 years, but 19K miles on it. Still rotted out completely.

  • avatar

    A quick review of our local Mitsubishi dealer shows 150 Outlander Sports and 100 Outlanders in inventory. I am seeing more and more of them on the road here in Western PA. The low cost and AWD make them very attractive here in the snowbelt. The small 4 cylinder and CVT are perfectly adequate for most general transportation needs. I put my wife in one a couple years back when her car was totaled and the need became more urgent. A 60k bumper-bumper and 100k powertrain warranty certainly helps. You can have a new Mitsubishi for not much more than most used vehicles in the same segment. Just like the article about cheap cars, Mitsubishi fills that need with their no frills lineup.

  • avatar

    Mitsubishi has three main problems in the USA, as I see it.

    1. They don’t have any products which set the class standard, or equal the class standard. Everything is an also-ran.

    2. Their dealers suck. Shop at a Mitsu dealer, and someone is likely going to try to run your credit score in the first 5 minutes of the encounter. Apparently 95% of their customers fall into the subprime sector. No reasonable person with decent credit is going to tolerate the horrid experience shopping at a Mitsubishi store.

    3. They have no identity to the American consumer. Say you bought a Mitsubishi to someone, you get a glazed look. They aren’t “known” for anything.

    • 0 avatar

      Not untrue, but not 100% true anymore either.

      1. The Outlander PHEV certainly leads its class of one. It costs about half as much as any other plug in hybrid SUV, yet it has more electric range than they do, and DC fast charging, and the smoothest hybrid system available at any price.

      2. My local Mitsu dealer was knowledgeable, honest, and applied zero sales pressure. Mitsu’s higher volume dealers may be another story though; from what I can see, they advertise highly improbable discounts and then say they have no control over the pricing that appears online (wot?).

      3. “No identity” does on the plus side mean they have the opportunity to define themselves. (That’s good because to me, their identity is “the least expensive way to X.” The least expensive way to get a new car or compact CUV. The least expensive way to get a three-row or plug-in hybrid SUV. The least expensive way to get a CUV that looks inside and out like a Lexus, albeit one that looks like it backed into a brick wall.)

      In general, buying a Mitsubishi is like buying a brand-new old Japanese car. Like old Japanese cars they’ve got that combination of painstakingly precise panel gaps and alarmingly thin sheetmetal and paint; those interiors that would be ergonomically optimal for someone 20% shorter than the average American; that mash-up of eager-puppy handling and sleepy-dog acceleration; and those low-low prices that make the compromises quite acceptable.

      • 0 avatar

        How many Outlander PHEVs do they sell in a month in the United States? If you must, add to my comment #1 “which sell in enough volume to be relevant”.

        I’ll concede that my comments are only 98% accurate.

  • avatar

    Finally Nissan has a competitor! Mitsu always looked better – I would choose Mitsu over Nissan anytime if had subprime credit rating. Unfortunately my rating is 820 and I pay with cash.

  • avatar

    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.

  • avatar

    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.

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