Opinion: It's a Bleak Future for Mitsubishi Cars in North America
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 G4 (sedan)
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]
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