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

opinion its 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)

Outlander Sport

Eclipse Cross


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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  • 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.

  • Snickel Fritz I just bought a '97 JX 4WD 4AT, and though it's not quite roadworthy yet I am already in awe of it's simplicity and apparent ruggedness. What I am equally in awe of, is the scarcity of not only parts but correct information regarding anything on this platform. I'm going to do my best to get this little donkey back on it's feet, but I wouldn't suggest this as a project vehicle for anyone who doesn't already have several... and a big impressive shop with a full suite of fabrication/machining/welding equipment, and friends with complimentary skillsets, and extra money, and... you get the idea. If you don't, I urge you to read up on the options for replacing anything on these rigs. I didn't read enough before buying, and I have zero of the above suggested prerequisites... so I'm an idiot, don't listen to me. Go buy all of 'em!
  • Bryan Raab Davis I actually did use the P of D trope, but it was only gentle chiding, for I love old British cars of every sort.
  • ScarecrowRepair The 1907 Panic had several causes of increased demand for money:[list][*]The semi-annual shift of money between farms and cities (to buy for planting and selling harvests)[/*][*]Britain and Germany borrowing for their naval arms race[/*][*]San Francisco reconstruction borrowing after the 1906 earthquake and fire[/*][/list]Two things made it worse:[list][*]Idiotic bans on branch banking, which prevented urban, rural, and other state branches from shifting funds to match demands. This same problem made the Great Depression far worse. Canada, which allowed branch banking, had no bank failures; the US had 9000 failures.[/*][*]Idiotic reserve requirements left over from the Civil War which prevented banks from loaning money; they eventually started honoring IOUs illegally and started the recovery.[/*][/list]Been a while since I read up on it, so I may have some of the details wrong. But it was an amazing clusterfart which could have been avoided or at least tamed sooner if states and the feds hadn't been so ham handed.
  • FreedMike Maybe this explains all the “Idiots wrecking exotic cars” YouTube videos.
  • FreedMike Good article! And I salute the author for not using the classic “Lucas - prince of darkness” trope, well earned as it may be. We all know the rap on BL cars, but on the flip side, they’re apparently pretty easy to work on (at least that’s the impression I’ve picked up). On the other hand, check the panel fits on the driver’s and passenger’s doors. Clearly, BL wasn’t much concerned with things like structural integrity when it chopped the roof off a car designed as a coupe.