Opinion: It's a Bleak Future for Mitsubishi Cars in North America

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis

Mitsubishi has an important product debut coming up: the all-new 2022 Outlander three-row crossover. In what will be the fourth-generation Outlander since 2001, the 2022 model ditches Mitsubishi’s ancient GS platform the Outlander has used since 2007 and sees a migration over to the same platform as the Nissan Rogue.

I think this is the beginning of the end for Mitsubishi in North America.

Mitsubishi has seen sales growth here since circa 2013 after the company’s product line was slimmed considerably between 2004 and 2009. With new Nissan blood, the plan is to make Mitsubishi more exciting. The first and most important step is releasing a new version of the “iconic” (their words) model, which will define their new direction. As it stands, the company’s lineup is a bit… short. Take a look:

Mirage


Mirage G4 (sedan)


Outlander Sport


Eclipse Cross


Outlander

The two Mirages are the same car, and the other three crossovers are all on the GS platform. Once Outlander Sport makes the jump to Nissan architecture, it’s reasonable to believe the others will switch over in short order.

Now based on the teaser image above, and this image of the 2021 Rogue, I’m thinking the all-new Outlander Sport is a clip swap away from the extant 2021 Rogue. Nissan gets a year jump on the sales since it’s the bigger brand donating the platform, and the boss of the operation.

But is there space in the crowded North American market for a relatively niche discount brand with a limited following to sell reworked or rebadged versions of Nissan product? Bearing in mind the monetary situation of both Nissan and Mitsubishi, the overlap seems fairly troublesome. Nissan covers North America with over 1,000 dealers, Mitsubishi has 440. Picture it: A couple years down the road and both brand’s offerings are, in theory, the same underneath. Why pay for two dealership chains to sell and service the same product? Consumers will know their Outlander is a Rogue Sport (or whatever), wearing a worse badge. We’re back to Ford/Mercury and Dodge/Plymouth times in this situation. Would you like the Spirit, or an Acclaim?

I just don’t see it working out domestically in the long-term. The reasonable expectation here is that Mitsubishi fades away and is absorbed into Nissan after its limited crossover offering is filled with four-cylinders and CVTs. The brand might continue its cars elsewhere globally, where it’s more dominant than Nissan in select markets.

Perhaps I’m wrong, but with the new Outlander’s introduction, I think Mitsubishi’s days in North America are numbered. Off to you.

[Images: Mitsubishi, Nissan]

Corey Lewis
Corey Lewis

Interested in lots of cars and their various historical contexts. Started writing articles for TTAC in late 2016, when my first posts were QOTDs. From there I started a few new series like Rare Rides, Buy/Drive/Burn, Abandoned History, and most recently Rare Rides Icons. Operating from a home base in Cincinnati, Ohio, a relative auto journalist dead zone. Many of my articles are prompted by something I'll see on social media that sparks my interest and causes me to research. Finding articles and information from the early days of the internet and beyond that covers the little details lost to time: trim packages, color and wheel choices, interior fabrics. Beyond those, I'm fascinated by automotive industry experiments, both failures and successes. Lately I've taken an interest in AI, and generating "what if" type images for car models long dead. Reincarnating a modern Toyota Paseo, Lincoln Mark IX, or Isuzu Trooper through a text prompt is fun. Fun to post them on Twitter too, and watch people overreact. To that end, the social media I use most is Twitter, @CoreyLewis86. I also contribute pieces for Forbes Wheels and Forbes Home.

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  • Jfk-usaf Jfk-usaf on Jan 26, 2021

    Why not pull slight deviation on what Chrysler did with Dodge and eventually Ram. Use Nissan for your cars and SUVs, butch up the Mitsubishi brand and use it for trucks and more rugged versions of your SUVs. Mits is dead on its own... None of its products are compelling. They're just cheap. Under the current strategy I see an eventual failure just like the author said.

  • Ajla Ajla on Jan 26, 2021

    Back in 2014 I looked into buying a Lancer Ralliart sedan. After some discussion on the Lancer forum the conclusion was that I would be happier with a V8 pony car. That's probably the closest I'll ever get to owning a Mitsubishi.

  • ToolGuy First picture: I realize that opinions vary on the height of modern trucks, but that entry door on the building is 80 inches tall and hits just below the headlights. Does anyone really believe this is reasonable?Second picture: I do not believe that is a good parking spot to be able to access the bed storage. More specifically, how do you plan to unload topsoil with the truck parked like that? Maybe you kids are taller than me.
  • ToolGuy The other day I attempted to check the engine oil in one of my old embarrassing vehicles and I guess the red shop towel I used wasn't genuine Snap-on (lots of counterfeits floating around) plus my driveway isn't completely level and long story short, the engine seized 3 minutes later.No more used cars for me, and nothing but dealer service from here on in (the journalists were right).
  • Doughboy Wow, Merc knocks it out of the park with their naming convention… again. /s
  • Doughboy I’ve seen car bras before, but never car beards. ZZ Top would be proud.
  • Bkojote Allright, actual person who knows trucks here, the article gets it a bit wrong.First off, the Maverick is not at all comparable to a Tacoma just because they're both Hybrids. Or lemme be blunt, the butch-est non-hybrid Maverick Tremor is suitable for 2/10 difficulty trails, a Trailhunter is for about 5/10 or maybe 6/10, just about the upper end of any stock vehicle you're buying from the factory. Aside from a Sasquatch Bronco or Rubicon Jeep Wrangler you're looking at something you're towing back if you want more capability (or perhaps something you /wish/ you were towing back.)Now, where the real world difference should play out is on the trail, where a lot of low speed crawling usually saps efficiency, especially when loaded to the gills. Real world MPG from a 4Runner is about 12-13mpg, So if this loaded-with-overlander-catalog Trailhunter is still pulling in the 20's - or even 18-19, that's a massive improvement.
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