Mitsubishi in America: Slow Fade-out Ahead?
Mitsubishi watched as its U.S. and Canadian volumes rose steadily over the past several years — growth hampered by a limited product lineup and so-so vehicle quality. Still, it was growth, and Mitsu made sure to celebrate each year-over-year sales increase.
Well, that was then, and this is now. As a member of an alliance dominated by Renault and Nissan and hit hard, like many others, by the coronavirus pandemic, the future holds a different strategy for the Japanese automaker. For the U.S., it also seems to hold fewer Mitsubishis.
Previously, Mitsu targeted North America and China for its future growth. Now, with its alliance partners insisting on a concerted, collective effort in which each member capitalizes on individual strengths in a limited number of markets, Mitsu now plans to abandon its previous growth plan.
In a shareholders meeting last week (reported on by Automotive News), the automaker’s CEO, Takao Kato, announced a turn away from North America and China. The company’s focus will now be on Southeast Asia and Pacific nations.
“Even though we increased sales volume in the megamarkets, we have not yet achieved the level of profit we expected. We aim to increase sales in the regions where we can offer our core products. We will gradually reduce our commitment to megamarkets,” Kato said, referring, in part, to the U.S.
Despite the steadily rising sales, the only new product Mitsu foisted on America in recent years was the Eclipse Cross, a compact crossover that steps pretty heavily on the equally compact Outlander Sport’s toes. The plan, going back a few years, was to drive the range-topping Outlander up in size while downsizing the Outlander Sport. There was tentative talk of a pickup truck, or of Mitsubishi taking the lead in developing a truck to be used by all alliance members.
It isn’t known just how Mitsubishi’s new global strategy will impact its North American lineup going forward; certainly, it doesn’t bode well for exciting new product or an expanded lineup. Best hold on to those memories of the Eclipse and Diamante.
Last month, the automaker announced it would cut fixed costs by 20 percent over the next two years. During the shareholder’s meeting, Kato said executives at his company will see a salary cut and the elimination of performance-based bonuses, amounting to a 45 percent decrease in take-home pay.
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