When Does an Automaker Issue a Press Release About a New Dealership? When It's Mitsubishi

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
when does an automaker issue a press release about a new dealership when its

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.

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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  • Ranny Ranny on Jan 26, 2019

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

  • Cimarron typeR Cimarron typeR on Jan 28, 2019

    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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