Mitsubishi Motors Corp. has appointed Gayu Uesugi as the new chairman of Mitsubishi Motors North America, effective Nov. 1, 2012. Uesugi had most recently served as the executive vice president and board member of Mitsubishi Motors, and serves as head officer of the carmaker’s product projects and strategy group. Uesugi will be responsible for overseeing the development of a profitable product plan and growth strategy for the United States market, according to Mitsubishi chief executive Osamu Masuko. As head officer of product projects and strategy group, Uesugi was in charge of corporate product strategy, cost control and purchasing. He had a major role in developing Mitsubishi's current product strategy that has resulted to profitable growth in emerging markets like Russia, China and Thailand.
The Japanese carmaker is hoping that Uesugi could use his experience to turn around its operations in the US, where Mitsubishi suffered a 30-percent drop in sales for the first nine months of 2012, in contrast to a 15-percent growth posted by the overall market. Uesugi’s appointment is the first since 2007 that Mitsubishi had a chairman for North America.
Yoichi Yokozawa will remain as chief executive of Mitsubishi Motors North America. In a statement, Masuko said that under Uesugi, Mitsubishi will also "begin a new initiative to further revitalize" its manufacturing plant in Normal, Illinois. The carmaker is rushing to increase its overseas output and parts procurement to protect itself from currency exchange rates that have been undercutting its profit. Mitsubishi commenced assembling the Outlander Sport compact crossover at the Illinois plant in July. The carmaker initially plans to produce 50,000 units of the Outlander Sport every year, half of which will be sold in North America and the other half will be exported.