By on June 22, 2020

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.

[Image: Mitsubishi]

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22 Comments on “Mitsubishi in America: Slow Fade-out Ahead?...”


  • avatar
    Pig_Iron

    “Last month, the automaker announced it would cut fixed costs by 20 percent over the next two years.”
    And so it begins.

  • avatar
    Pig_Iron

    “Last month, the automaker announced it would cut fixed costs by 20 percent over the next two years.”
    And so it begins. :-/

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Caught an old episode of Top Gear USA recently and saw Tanner hustling a end-of-the-line EVO through the snow.

    What happened Mitsubishi? You used to be cool, man.

    (45% cut in take home pay? While I think many executives are over compensated I’ll bet any of them that are any good find work for Mitsu’s competitors.)

  • avatar
    schmitt trigger

    My daughter, when she got her first real job, purchased an Outlander Sport, despite my warnings.
    But Mitsu offered her very generous financing and she went with it anyways.

    That was in early 2012. She still got that Mitsu, which has been surprisingly reliable to her. When I go visit her, she allows me to drive it, and the only real complaint I have is its lack of power.

    Although she has made it clear that her next vehicle won’t be a Mitsu.

    And I think that is the core problem: they are good first vehicles, but there is nothing else when one upgrades.

    • 0 avatar
      gasser

      Sadly, how good a “deal” Mitsubishi gave her will be judged on the day she trades her vehicle in. Whatever savings she got choosing Mitsu over a more expensive brand will be “eclipsed” by a horrible trade value.

    • 0 avatar
      thegamper

      I feel like Mitsubishi is selling exclusively on price and pushes hard for sales in the sub-prime market. I really don’t see anyone getting a Mitsubishi anymore because they want that particular vehicle.

      Not trying to get down on that market, that’s what Dodge does, Kia did, heck several automakers will have at least one or two models that can play there. There is a market to serve there, but growth requires a wider appeal I think. Its been a long time coming unfortunately. Shame considering some of their great offerings in the past.

      I shopped for an EVO at one point. I remember I was in my early 30’s and they wouldn’t let me test drive it. Was coming out of a Mazdaspeed6 and was perplexed that they wouldn’t let me drive it seeing as I was probably the precise demographic they primarily sell that car to. Smell ya later I guess.

    • 0 avatar

      “they are good first vehicles, but there is nothing else when one upgrades.”

      Why, there is Galant, Sigma and various Nissans.

    • 0 avatar

      All Japanese vehicles are reliable. The Outlander has reasonably good quality and should be good for at least 170,000+ miles.

  • avatar
    jh26036

    It’s time to go Mitsubishi. Maybe we will see you again in the future. Bring Fiat with you.

  • avatar
    eggsalad

    I used to see tons of Mirages all around Vegas. Now that the rental-car business has dried up, I see zero. If Mitsubishi leaves, what will all the pikers who don’t pay for an upgrade get stuck with? Oh well, there’s always the Chevy Spark.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Seems like a mistake.

    With the economy tanking, I’d think that Mitsubishi could move even more volume into the low end market, as they’ve done successfully with the Mirage.

    Settling for a bit less profit while growing market share could position them well for the future. Instead, this move could unwind all the progress of the last decade.

  • avatar
    JMII

    It’s been a really long fade out… they have been going away for what 25 years now?

  • avatar
    Carrera

    They have a decent midsize pick up truck overseas but they would need Nissan Frontier’s engine since they only offer diesel overseas. Not sure if Nissan would let them have their fancy new 3.8 V6 with the 9 speed transmission though. The midsize market is getting a bit crowded but there could be some room. I don’t think they have the Normal, IL plant anymore though. Use Nissan’s but use their own body style? ( unlike the old Suzuki badge engineering).

    • 0 avatar
      conundrum

      Rivian is making non-existent electric pickup trucks in that old Normal IL Mitsubishi factory.

      Seems to me that it was Mercedes when they owned Chrysler who gradually turned off collaboration with Mitsubishi, as they also ground Chrysler itself to pulp.

      Mitsubishi had a huge scandal in Japan in 2000 when it was revealed that they had not reported vehicle defects to the equivalent of NHTSA for 30 years. They promised to do better. Ha! Sure. Right. There was a fuel economy scandal in 2011, and yet another one in 2016, which is how they turned up in Nissan’s arms at 37% ownership. Not a stellar record for MMC, who have been desperate for 20 years. They basically started Hyundai on FWD away from the old Euro RWD underpinnings, engineered the first Proton cars in Malaysia, and lied about their own defects to governments. I loved my old Talon AWD, but that’s a long time ago now. Meanwhile, avoid, because they really aren’t to be trusted based on past corporate performance.

  • avatar
    Lorenzo

    Having seen a ’55 Aurelia B12 sedan in the metal, I was surprised at how small it was. It was shorter than a 2020 Corolla, and incredibly narrow, about five feet across!

    This looks like a substantial vehicle, but it’s really a subcompact. I guess that’s what would sell in Italy, but the size for a luxury car is a good reason why it wasn’t imported to America.

  • avatar
    B-BodyBuick84

    I genuinely feel bad for Mitsubishi. Despite being from a GM family most of my life, my mother now drives a 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander GT with the V6 and S-AWC and my cousin drives a 2017 or 2018 Mirage G4 sedan (also a GT trim level I think?). Here’s the thing. Neither my mother nor cousin are car people. They wanted something that suited their needs (for mum that being easy to park, 7 seats and traction for snow and dirt roads, and for my cousin that being cheap on fuel, heated seats, a sedan and the least hassle possible maintenance-wise). For the price and warranty, they couldn’t really get any better, and having driven both, I can honestly say they do their intended jobs well enough. The two massive issues Mitsubishi have are A) no full-sized crossover SUV, such as the Kai Telluride, Toyota Highlander, or Ford Explorer, where most of the money is, and B) Their advertising budget as far as I can tell, is terrible. Despite my best efforts, I actually grew fond of that little Mirage G4 in a go-cart kinda way, and I am more than impressed with how that AWD system in the Outlander handles snow covered roads and muddy dirt trails. How come Mitsubishi doesn’t advertise these things?!?! I’m 6’2 and I fit in the backseat of that Mirage! I’ve seen Subaru Foresters and Outbacks fail in winter where that thing has just kept going! Why don’t they advertise these things? Show what the vehicles themselves can do for a consumer, not just what a deal the financial department can get you!
    Okay, rant done

    • 0 avatar
      chiefmonkey

      “Neither are car people” Why do people always feel like they have to say this to justify the purchase of an unusual vehicle? In my mind someone who drives an Outlander is a lot more of a car person than someone who drives a CR-V or something. “Well, I’m not a car person, but I wanted something that was unique, practical, reliable, and fun to drive…”

  • avatar

    Mitsubishi should try to avoid the GM cut and run approach. It almost always results in loss market share and a tarnished reputation.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    Mitsubishi needs a small cheap truck.

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