By on April 26, 2019

Comfortably secure in its Renault-Nissan Alliance embrace, Mitsubishi’s topmost desire is to see more dealerships in the United States. Ideally, a total of 400 by the end of this year. For dealers that actually sell Mitsubishis, product is top of mind — specifically, a truck.

Everyone’s getting into the game, yet Mitsubishi hasn’t fielded a pickup in the U.S. since the ill-fated Raider (a rebadged Dodge Dakota) met an ignominious end during the Great Recession. That’s expected to change now that Mitsu’s leading the midsize charge within the alliance. Still, those dealers can expect a long wait.

Wards Auto, which last year reported one Mitsu dealer describing the network’s wants as “a pickup truck, a pickup truck, a pickup truck,” claims dealers won’t get their wish until the automaker can ensure it has the right stuff to challenge Ford, General Motors, and Toyota.

“We would like to have (a pickup), but we’d have to have one that’s the right fit for Mitsubishi, for our demographic, and something that’s really competitive in the market,” Mark Chaffin, chief operating officer for Mitsubishi Motors North America, told the publication.

Last month, outgoing COO Trevor Mann revealed that Mitsu engineers have been tasked with creating a common pickup platform for use by all Alliance brands. As reported by Automotive News, the new platform will one day underpin the Triton, Nissan Navara, and Renault Alaskan. It might also form the basis of the next-generation Nissan Frontier, though a recent report claims the new model will appear late next year (as a 2021 model) with its existing platform in tow.

Image: Mitsubishi

LMC Automotive data places the Frontier introduction a year later than that, but there’s no mention of its underpinnings. As for the next-gen Triton (the current version appeared in 2015 and gained upgrades and a styling refresh for 2019), LMC sees it coming to the U.S. in 2024 as a 2025 model. A five-year wait is probably not what dealers want to hear, but Chaffin isn’t interested in debuting an instant also-ran.

As it pulls back from the brink in the U.S., Mitsubishi hopes to grow its presence in underserved markets, Chaffin said — specifically, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Houston, New York, and Boston. The brand added dealers in Virginia, Georgia, and Colorado this month. Still, the brand remains almost nonexistent in some markets.

“We’re not looking to crowd the market with our existing dealers, but we’re looking to spread the footprint, to get the Mitsubishi brand in front of more people,” he said.

U.S. sales rose 14 percent in 2018, with the first three months of 2019 showing a 17.6 percent gain. March was the brand’s best sales month since March of 2004.

[Images: Mitsubishi Motors]

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34 Comments on “What Dealers Want: Mitsubishi’s Still Hot for Pickups, but the Waiting Is the Hardest Part...”


  • avatar
    Steve Biro

    I know that I’ll get pooh-poohed for writing this… but why do I have a strange feeling that the current pick-up and SUV boom will either be fading or over completely by 2025?

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      Maybe the boom will fade, but only by two means:

      1. They are regulated away by leftist politicians.
      2. Fuel prices begin a steady and unbroken climb into the stratosphere, starting now. I can’t say how high it would need to go, but $10+/gallon comes to mind. Price spikes always temporarily change behavior, but I would think very high prices would eventually force some people to choose between eating food or filling the pickup. That doesn’t happen with $4 gas.

      • 0 avatar
        993cc

        There will always be demand for pickups by people who truly need them. They were a significant product category long before they became a lifestyle accessory. If/when the price of fuel goes high enough to have an impact, the prize will go to the manufacturers who develop durable plug-in hybrid drivetrain that can tow. Mitsu has some experience with this, and should take advantage of it.

      • 0 avatar
        Mike-NB2

        I agree with you, and I’m sure you’ll agree with this: there are people out there who would choose gas over food. For a while anyway. Take the 2023 F350 to the food bank or soup kitchen.

      • 0 avatar
        Superdessucke

        I would agree with this, but don’t think it’s just a distant dream. I think pretty much all the Democratic candidates in 2020 are going to be very left this time. Democrats now think the need to pretend they’re centerest like they used to is no longer necessary, or maybe even a liability among their rabid base. Trump, and the media, have really divided things.

        I think even candidates who are presently more center, such as Joe Biden and Mayor Pete, are going to end up getting pushed to the left during the shouting match that’s going to be the primary campaign.

        I believe Trump will win re-election in 2020 and then all will be well in the big vehicle department. I don’t think the country is ready for a radical leftist agenda, yet. But if he doesn’t win, I think you can expect to see high fuel taxes and special taxes on larger vehicles to pay for the various promised programs. The EPA loopholes that allowed SUVs to thrive will certainly slam shut, and probably much more Draconian fuel mileage requirements will come too.

        These vehicles are popular across the board, of course, but they really represent that dumb American flyover country that liberals despise, particularly large pick ’em ups, which add in toxic masculinity to the blend. And they will take punitive measures against it if they gain power. Watch.

        Get out and vote people! Save your truck!

        • 0 avatar
          HotPotato

          I am curious how a New York City property developer who inherited $433 million and is famous for stiffing contractors is a man of the people, whereas an assortment of veterans, heartland mayors, state college professors etc. are elitist. Somebody’s hotboxing their political bubble pretty hard.

          Nah, nobody’s banning anything. They’ll work on the infrastructure and price barriers that stop people from buying EVs, people won’t buy them anyway because the reality is that we’re creatures of habit rather than logic, and things will continue stumbling toward catastrophe.

    • 0 avatar
      d4rksabre

      It might if the way people are able to buy those vehicles doesn’t change. The housing market has adjusted to us millennials and our boatloads of student loan debt and stagnant wages. So if truck/SUV sales start to really fall apart I think what you’ll see is a change in lending habits that shift towards even *longer* loans. I’m talking 10 year loans on trucks.

      Cars have gotten so good now that there’s really no reason (that I can see) that a manufacturers shouldn’t be willing to hand out even longer loan terms. I see FCA quoting 48 month leases on most of their SUVs now.

      I also think that warranties are going to have to get longer too. There’s really no reason an OEM shouldn’t be offering 10yr/100k mi powertrain warranties on modern cars. We as consumers should expect more in this area.

    • 0 avatar
      here4aSammich

      Well I guess since you don’t have a theory behind your reason for it, you could be “pooh-poohed”. Gas prices would be the only reason I could see. But we get a majority of our oil domestically now, and there’s a lot of extra capacity still capped off. Add that in with growing efficiency and hybrid sales, I can’t see a price spike coming in the near or medium term future.

      • 0 avatar
        Gardiner Westbound

        Some brands already have an extraordinarily lengthy new car warranty. A warranty that requires waging thermonuclear war on the dealer and carmaker, often the case, is valueless. Better to buy a car with a positive owner reliability rating.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      Maybe if you (and others) keep saying it (like is done on *every* truck/utility-related article, except for maybe when concerning Toyota), it will become true! Just keep hoping and wishing that people will buy what you want instead of what they want.

      The Ford F-Series has been the best selling *vehicle* (of any type) for the past 36 years, with the Chevrolet fullsize truck as the second for just as long. The Rav4 and CRV have replaced the Camry and Accord as their respective manufacturer’s best selling models. Jeep seems to be setting record sales everytime you turn around. Utility vehicles have had a prominent place on the top selling vehicle charts since Ford introduced the Explorer in 1991 (28 years ago).
      Keep saying it’s just a “current boom” or a fad or whatever you wishfully want to call it, but it isnt likely to change any time soon. Maybe hamburgers and pizza are just a current boom. Maybe toilet paper is just a fad that will disappear any day now.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Oh, that nose. But the Raider name is a good one to re-use.

  • avatar

    Who in the US is going to pick a Mitsubishi truck over a Nissan one when they’re the same thing, and Nissan has many more outlets at which to buy?

  • avatar
    jack4x

    I think a Mirage based pickup with a regular cab and 2 foot bed, plus crank windows, no airbags, and a manual transmission, will be just what the B&B ordered.

  • avatar
    Dilrod

    “We would like to have (a pickup), but we’d have to have one that’s the right fit for Mitsubishi, for our demographic, and something that’s really competitive in the market…”

    That’s like a restaurant saying “We would like to have chicken on the menu, but we’d have to serve chicken that our customers would eat.”

    So what’s the hold-up?

  • avatar
    NN

    The pickup in the picture–the Mitsubishi Triton, is made in Thailand and starts at just over $16k there (522k baht), for a 2wd single cab diesel. If they could meet US safety & environmental regs, (and build a simple slap-together plant in Mexico to avoid chicken tax) this would be the perfect Mitsubishi pickup truck. let Nissan have the higher dollar product that more directly competes with the Tacoma. Mitsubishi is the right brand to sell the bare bones cheap pickup–and sell they would.

  • avatar
    ImAlwaysRight

    I dont mind waiting, but good God almighty not for that ugly blob. Good lord.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    Having had a Mighty Max for 14 years it was a good truck but parts were hard to get and expensive and that was when the truck was only 2 years old. The Triton above would make a good truck and as someone said above Assemble them in Mexico. Keep the truck basic with just a 5 speed manual (5 speed auto as an option), AC, crank windows, and a DIN stereo and offer it in limited basic colors such as white, black, silver,and red with steel wheels and a black plastic cap to cover the lug nuts. Offer it in extended cab only with rear seat optional with a plastic floor. And yes call it a Mighty Max a good name. Offer an I-4 only with no turbo and price it at 15k as the base price. Import the body panels from Thailand because of costs and the tooling would have long been paid for.

  • avatar
    Spike_in_Brisbane

    The jewel in Mitsubishi’s crown at the moment is the Outlander PHEV, the largest selling plug-in hybrid in the world. Why is it never mentioned in TTAC?

    • 0 avatar
      HotPotato

      Legitimate question. It’s a nice rig but it’s pricey for the range and power you get. It’ll be more compelling when Australia and North America get the bigger engine and bigger battery that other markets already got for this model year.

  • avatar

    I think their next move should be to bring back the Montero as a body-on-frame SUV. Sure, it’s a niche market, but Mitsubishi is a niche player.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      That would simply be too good to be true. I’d absolutely love it, though. As I’ve said elsewhere, I’d like to see Kia bring back the Mojave (Borrego as we knew it) BOF SUV here, and base a pickup off of it as well.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    Why not bring back both the Montero and the Mighty Max. Make both more basic with a lower sticker price than the competition.

  • avatar
    JohnTaurus

    I like the truck, and as others are saying, it could carve out a niche has being the default “cheap” truck. But, with the not-insignificant investment required to bring it here, I doubt it’ll end up much cheaper than the current cheap choice (the ancient Frontier).

    If a future Mitsubishi and Nissan truck share a platform, there is no reason why both couldn’t be built in Canton, Mississippi where the current Frontier (and Titan) are built.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    I doubt it would be as large an investment as designing ran all new truck. Take an existing product and use an existing plant. This has been done in the past. There are plenty of expensive trucks and yes it could be cheaper than the Frontier if it were made in Mexico. If you are assuming that the current Frontier will always be the same and not replaced Nissan has already stated that it will be replaced. Could take the current generation of Frontier and rebadge it as a Mitsubishi.

  • avatar
    HotPotato

    They’re already importing the Mirage from Thailand, no? Bring over that blobby long-overhang truck-like object too, then.


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