US Mitsubishi dealers get Mirage instead of new product

Article by Anita Panait, on October 2, 2013

While Mitsubishi's dealers in the United States are aching for a compelling new product that will revive the brand in the country, the Japanese carmaker is sending them the Mirage, a pint-sized economy car designed for the developing world. This hints that the US holds little influence in the carmaker’s global strategy and product portfolio, delegating the country as a backwater market.

After all, Mitsubishi considers North America its smallest market. The Japanese only expects to sell just 64,000 vehicles in the US in its fiscal year ending March 2014, after selling 57,000 units in its previous fiscal year.

In contrast, Mitsubishi sold 357,000 vehicles in Southeast and Northern Asia in its fiscal year ended March 2013. The regions accounted for 36 percent of the carmaker’s global sales. Mitsubishi last posted such sales in the US in the 2002 calendar year, selling 345,111 units.

Despite slumping sales as well as operating losses in North America, Mitsubishi has no plans to withdraw from the region.

The Japanese carmaker is still well rooted in the US, as evidenced by the presence of a factory as well as around 400 dealers here.  Atop Mitsubishi executive has vowed that the carmaker is working on a revamped US product plan in order to revive the brand in the country.

During a recent dealer meeting, Mitsubishi Motors Corp. President Osamu Masuko reiterated that the carmaker will not pull out from the US market, adding that there will be a product plan to be rolled out “pretty soon," according to Masatoshi Hasegawa, executive vice president of corporate strategy for Mitsubishi Motors North America.

Hasegawa said that Masuko’s statement is a “sign of real re-engagement, product-wise, on the U.S. market.” He added that Mitsubishi is now in a transitional period, with lot of things slated to start happening around 2015.

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