By on January 25, 2019

2018 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV - Image: Mitsubishi

Mitsubishi Motors burned up the newswires today in its haste to celebrate the opening of a new dealership in Cartersville, Georgia — which isn’t something you see every day. While hard to imagine for an OEM like Ford or GM, the press release fits with Mitsubishi’s short-term goal: a dealer network expansion in the U.S. and Canada, and greater dealer visibility.

We rag on Mitsubishi a lot; in many cases rightly so (why do your driver’s seats wobble?), but the brand that courted death earlier this decade just wrapped up its best sales year since 2006. When you’re small, you celebrate the little things.

While selling 118,074 vehicles in a calendar year doesn’t seem like a huge feat for a mainstream automaker (General Motors sold 142,617 Cruzes and 144,542 Malibus last year, and those are cars), it’s champagne-popping news for Mitsubishi. Last year’s U.S. sales tally represents a 13.9 percent increase over 2017.

Keep in mind that, starting in 2008, Mitsubishi’s annual volume dipped into the five-figure realm following a heady start to the new century. In 2002, the brand sold 345,915 vehicles and boasted a 2.1 percent U.S. market share. By the end of the decade, in 2009, Mitsubishi only managed to sell 53,986 vehicles. Its market share fell to 0.52 percent. It was only in 2017 that Mitsu, now enlivened (though not product-wise) by its newfound membership in the Renault-Nissan Alliance, managed to clear the six-figure mark.

Image: Mitsubishi Canada

So it’s no wonder there’s fanfare over the opening of Terry Reid Mitsubishi in Cartersville, Georgia. In late 2017, the automaker announced its plan to grow volume through an expanded North American dealer network, unveiling a sexy, revamped look for the stores. The U.S. currently houses 355 Mitsu dealers.

In terms of sales, every Mitsubishi was a winner in 2018 — even the lowly Mirage subcompact. That diminutive runabout, offered as a hatch or sedan, sale its sales rise 8.6 percent last year. Of course, the brand’s quarter of utilities — Outlander Sport, Outlander, Outlander PHEV, and Eclipse Cross — is where profits lie, and those vehicles had a good year, too. Relatively speaking, anyway. The ancient but affordable Outlander Sport still handily outsells the vehicle designed to replace it (Eclipse Cross), with sales up 18.1 percent last year. Outlander sales rose 6.6 percent.

Meanwhile, the crossover with the much-derided name posted its best sales month thus far in December, though its volume pales in comparison to popular (or even not-so-popular) nameplates offered by other companies. After first appearing on sales charts in February, the Eclipse Cross found 9,485 American buyers in 2018, some 1,597 of them in December. Even without this added volume, Mitsubishi sales stood to rise in 2018.

The Outlander PHEV, which took its sweet time reaching the U.S., added 4,166 sales to the ledger last year.

What’s left now is to wait for new product to emerge from Mitsu’s tie-up with Renault and Nissan. And it might be a long wait. The company says its alliance membership won’t bear fruit until early next decade.

[Images: Mitsubishi]

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20 Comments on “When Does an Automaker Issue a Press Release About a New Dealership? When It’s Mitsubishi...”

  • avatar

    Hopefully not a shady dealership. When do the “0/0/0” banners go up? is the F&I office ready to push pulsing third brake light kits (adds as little as $5 a month!), extended warranties, etc.?

    • 0 avatar

      The dealer “experience” was the one and only negative aspect of Eclipse (’94) ownership in the early 90s but it was enough to dissuade me from being a repeat customer. If they can reign-in some of the dealership shenanigans and ensure the experience is stress-free, they will have made significant progress on that basis alone.

      (BTW, are the pulsating brake lights dealer add-ons? I have only seen those in late-model Hyundais and assumed they were just a new factory-equipped safety feature.)

  • avatar

    Mitsubishi outsold Volvo, Mini, Lincoln, Land Rover, FIAT in 2018.

  • avatar

    I purchased a new 2015 Outlander Sport after my wife’s car was totaled. It is a base ES, 2.0 CVT AWD. With most late model/low mileage CUVs north of $15k in my area, it made a lot of sense to buy a NEW vehicle with a 60k/100k warranty for $20k. It has been a perfectly competent vehicle and well suited for my wife, we have put 85K on it since October 2015. Outlander sports are thick on the ground here as many other people have come to the same conclusion.

    I understand what it is, and I understand the compromises made to bring it to the market at the price point. My only real gripe with the vehicle is the CVT service interval, 30,000 miles recommended (severe service interval) with a procedure of drain, fill, drive, drain, fill. Factory fluid is $15 a quart and it takes 4 for each drain/fill.

    Overall I am pleased with my choice, and would make the same choice again in a similar situation.

    • 0 avatar

      Hey compared to buying 10 quarts of DiaQueen III for a servicing of their regular automatics, $15/qt for just 4 quarts is cheap!

      Mitsubishi makes some perfectly competent stuff, more reliable and better screwed together than the prior gen Patriots and Compasses they were competing against in the low-cost AWD CUV space. The fullsize Outlander is not horrible either, but is standing still tech wise while most competitors are getting 200hp and 30+ mpg from their base powertrains

      • 0 avatar

        I’ve had my 2015 Outlander Sport 2WD 5-speed manual for 69,000 miles. I have not had a single issue with it. Zero. The powertrain warranty is still good until 2025! Ok, it I understand that it isn’t as refined or beautifully constructed as a CRV, but it is certainly rock-solid. Plus, I regularly achieve over 30mpg just driving 12 miles to work and back. And to all the nay-sayers, my driver’s seat does NOT rock in the slightest bit. I’ve had probably 30 cars in my life, mostly purchased new and I have to say that this thing definitely has it’s place. By the way, I just replaced the original set of tires, even though I probably could have run them for another 5 or 10 thousand miles.

        • 0 avatar

          I had to have shims placed into power seat-equipped 2000 and 2006 Accords, so even the big boys have problems. (Transmissions, VCMs, brakes, igniters, whatevs.)

          You do hate to see a good name with lots of equity (Eclipse, Blazer) sullied!

          Anything with “Renault” and “Alliance” in it is instant LOLZ!

  • avatar

    So does Lotus, at least on the Lotus Forum.

  • avatar

    Our local Mitsu dealer (richmond, b.c.) closed last year. Even if I wanted one, there is no way I would drive an hour to get to the next dealer. you would think they would give them away to exiting Nissan dealers or (I do not understand franchise laws)simply open a hundred corporate owned stores.

  • avatar

    I still chuckle when I think about the Mitsu dealer in the next town over. The dealership itself is tiny and obviously a former used car dealership. The “Service Department” is a couple bays leased from a body shop a couple blocks away.

  • avatar

    It remains to be seen how many Americans will feel motivated by this earth-shattering news to visit their nearby Mitsu dealer.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    There use to be a Mitsubishi dealership in N KY but that was about 10 years ago. Nearest one is now in Cincinnati (just one). Had a Mighty Max for 14 years good truck but parts were expensive and hard to get. I would have to have a dealer closer by and for a Mitsubishi to be a lot less expensive (more than 2 or 3k) to even consider another one. Too many other good vehicles on the market.

  • avatar

    OK, Mitsu, time to bring us a new Mirage in the form of a badge engineered Nissan Micra.

  • avatar
    cimarron typeR

    I personally like Mitsus for their 3rd world toughness cred. Just goto any island country and see how many beat up Mitsus puttering around.Ironic about the shady dealer, here in KC the only dealership owner I ‘ve ever seen brought up on criminal charges was one of the local Mitsu dealers (Jeremy Franklin ). It was a Fargo type deal iirc

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