Mitsubishi’s Saving Grace: A New Blueprint for Success in the United States

Crunch time for struggling Japanese brand.

Mitsubishi is set to reveal its strategy for revamping its presence in the North American market through a comprehensive five- to seven-year plan that will include the launch of new products. The company is expected to make an official announcement in the upcoming spring season. In our opinion, this news cannot come soon enough for the struggling brand, which we previously likened to “another Lancia on the brink of extinction” unless significant transformations are implemented.

According to a report from Automotive News, Mark Chaffin, the chief of Mitsubishi North America, recently informed dealers that 2024 will serve as a “platform for the next phase of Mitsubishi’s transformation.” Chaffin emphasized that the key to this transformation will be the introduction of new products that appeal to the American market, as the automaker currently only offers three crossovers and the budget-friendly Mitsubishi Mirage.

Currently, the Mitsubishi Outlander is the sole model that could be considered somewhat of a triumph in the US. However, this description should be used loosely, as it sold a meager 42,501 units in 2023, with an additional 6,681 being plug-in hybrid versions. The overall sales for the entire brand were only 87,340, which is significantly less than its peak in America back in 2002, when 345,915 Mitsubishis were purchased.

In an exclusive interview with AN, Chaffin highlighted the Outlander as a prime illustration of the brand’s capabilities. “The triumph of the Outlander has demonstrated the potential of this brand and has served as the driving force behind a complete overhaul of our company’s operations and the way our dealers conduct their business,” he stated.

The Outlander serves as the top-selling model for Mitsubishi in the US, making up half of the brand’s total sales. However, relying solely on one product is not enough for the company to thrive, causing frustration among local dealers. According to an anonymous retailer who spoke with AN, there is a growing desire for a solid product plan. “The dealers are eagerly awaiting updates on our product lineup,” the source stated. “We have some gaps that need to be filled.”

According to the dealer, there are certain key elements that are lacking in Mitsubishi’s portfolio. These include a new crossover as a replacement for the old Mirage, which has been on the market since 2012 and is now in its sixth generation. In addition, there is a need for a bigger three-row SUV to compete with rivals like the Hyundai Palisade, Kia Telluride, and Toyota Grand Highlander.

According to Chaffin, a transformation is in store for the aging lineup, but he emphasized that it cannot happen overnight. He stated, “It’s not a decision we can make on a whim. We simply require a bit more time.”

In order to introduce any type of new product, approval must be obtained from the headquarters, as the main Mitsubishi company is facing limited choices. The Outlander Sport, also known as the ASX in certain regions, has been substituted with a relabeled Renault crossover in Europe. However, this option would not be viable for the American market, causing a predicament as the present Outlander Sport will no longer be offered after 2024 without a suitable successor.

According to insider information from CarBuzz, the upcoming Eclipse Cross will target a wider range of consumers compared to both its predecessor and the Outlander Sport. This highlights a decrease in product size rather than an expansion.

As Mitsubishi devises their product strategy, they are making significant investments in their dealerships in hopes of increasing sales for their existing range. However, one fact remains clear: the next step for Mitsubishi is crucial. If they fail to revive their American lineup, the brand may fade into obscurity in the long-standing annals of America’s automotive industry.

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