Mitsubishi Motors North America has named Ryujiro Kobashi as its new chief executive effective March 1, 2014, replacing current CEO Yoichi Yokozawa. Kobashi was most recently the corporate general manager of the North America office at Mitsubishi’s main office in Japan. Joining the carmaker in 1983, Kobashi has held marketing, sales and advertising roles in a number of overseas markets, like Germany, the Netherlands and Southeast Asia.
"I am very much looking forward to this new opportunity as we navigate Mitsubishi Motors North America to thrive in the U.S. market under MMC's 'New Stage 2016' business plan," Kobashi said in a statement. He will be inheriting a North American unit that has started to recover from a long product drought.
Mitsubishi logged an 8-percent surge in sales in the United States in 2013 to 62,227 vehicles, after selling below 60,000 vehicles annually since 2009, except for a surge in 2011.
During the period, US-produced vehicles like the Eclipse, Endeavor and Galant were phased out of the U.S. lineup as the Mitsubishi cut down regional vehicle platforms in favor of vehicles that could be sold globally, like the Outlander Sport.
Yokozawa oversaw the launch of the Mitsubishi i-MiEV, Outlander and Outlander Sport and the Mirage. During Yokozawa’s leadership, Mitsubishi spent over $100 million to retool its Normal site in Illinois to produce the Outlander Sport for sale in North America and for export starting in 2012.