Familiar Face Returns As Mitsubishi's North American Boss

familiar face returns as mitsubishis north american boss

One day, perhaps even one day this year ( …or next!), Mitsubishi will have a new model to show off to Americans, and when that time comes there’ll be a new top boss performing the unveiling.

Fred Diaz is out as CEO of Mitsubishi Motors North America, the automaker announced Thursday, replaced by someone who knows the job fairly well. He’s had it before.

Yoichi Yokozawa (on the left in the above photo) was named president and CEO of MMNA in Diaz’s absence, but he’ll have to wait until “travel restrictions are removed” in order to formally occupy the role, Mitsubishi said. In the meantime, Chief Operating Officer Mark Chaffin steps into the interim CEO role, effective immediately.

The automaker did not waste digital ink outlining the nature of Diaz’s departure. The former top boss accepted the role in April of 2018.

For Yokozawa, a 22-year company veteran, it’s something of a homecoming. Yokozawa previously held the position of MMNA CEO from 2011 to 2014. Those were lean times for the automaker in America — after bottoming out during the recession, Mitsu’s U.S. volume remained in the five-figure category until 2016, when it finally crested the 100,000 mark.

The automaker’s annual U.S. tally of 121,046 vehicles sold in 2019 was its best showing since 2007, though a far cry from the 300,000-plus vehicles offloaded each year from 2000 to 2002. Mitsu’s inclusion in the still-rocky Renault-Nissan alliance has afforded the automaker a future, however, via access to the platforms and technology it’ll need to stay competitive in a decade of flux.

“Yoichi is an experienced team player, and his global background and previous North American experience will serve him well as he leads the MMNA organization forward,” said Guillaume Cartier, Mitsubishi Motors’ senior vice president responsible for Global Marketing and Sales.

“We are grateful to Fred for his accomplishments and commitment to Mitsubishi Motors. He steered the company to sales successes in a challenging U.S. market, built a strong leadership team, strengthened the U.S. dealer partner network, and laid the foundation for the future of a successful Mitsubishi Motors in the United States.”

[Image: Mitsubishi Motors]

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  • Jeff S Jeff S on Mar 27, 2020

    Mitsubishi needs to come out with a true compact pickup even if it shares a platform with one of their crossovers. Make it small, not too tall, basic, and affordable. How about pricing it just below 19k and make it available in a few basic colors like white, black, and silver with few options and offer a gray interior instead of black. Make it 2 wheel drive and have a basic 3 or 4 cylinder with a manual transmission and optional 4 or 5 speed auto. Don't offer few electronic nannies except what is required by law and offer a basic radio with Smart Phone and I-Phone connectivity. At the very least offer a extended cab with a rear seat delete, no carpet. Keep it simple and even if is assembled in Mexico to keep the cost low. Call it the Mini Max if they don't want to use the Mighty Max name. Many delivery services, service industries, and auto parts delivery would buy an inexpensive and small pickup.

  • Jeff S Jeff S on Mar 27, 2020

    I mean offer few if any electronic nannies except what is required by law.

  • Dennis Howerton Nice article, Cory. Makes me wish I had bought Festivas when they were being produced. Kia made them until the line was discontinued, but Kia evidently used some of the technology to make the Rio. Pictures of the interior look a lot like my Rio's interior, and the 1.5 liter engine is from Mazda while Ford made the automatic transmission in the used 2002 Rio I've been driving since 2006. I might add the Rio is also an excellent subcompact people mover.
  • Sgeffe Bronco looks with JLR “reliability!”What’s not to like?!
  • FreedMike Back in the '70s, the one thing keeping consumers from buying more Datsuns was styling - these guys were bringing over some of the ugliest product imaginable. Remember the F10? As hard as I try to blot that rolling aberration from my memory, it comes back. So the name change to Nissan made sense, and happened right as they started bringing over good-looking product (like the Maxima that will be featured in this series). They made a pretty clean break.
  • Flowerplough Liability - Autonomous vehicles must be programmed to make life-ending decisions, and who wants to risk that? Hit the moose or dive into the steep grassy ditch? Ram the sudden pile up that is occurring mere feet in front of the bumper or scan the oncoming lane and swing left? Ram the rogue machine that suddenly swung into my lane, head on, or hop up onto the sidewalk and maybe bump a pedestrian? With no driver involved, Ford/Volkswagen or GM or whomever will bear full responsibility and, in America, be ambulance-chaser sued into bankruptcy and extinction in well under a decade. Or maybe the yuge corporations will get special, good-faith, immunity laws, nation-wide? Yeah, that's the ticket.
  • FreedMike It's not that consumers wouldn't want this tech in theory - I think they would. Honestly, the idea of a car that can take over the truly tedious driving stuff that drives me bonkers - like sitting in traffic - appeals to me. But there's no way I'd put my property and my life in the hands of tech that's clearly not ready for prime time, and neither would the majority of other drivers. If they want this tech to sell, they need to get it right.