Report: Mitsubishi Planning Dealer Expansion, More Models for U.S.


report mitsubishi planning dealer expansion more models for u s

Mitsubishi has said it plans to revive the brand in the United States. The stated strategy involves expanding its lineup and retail locations. While this is probably very exciting to those who recall driving any model equipped with the 4G63 engine, it might be wise to temper expectations. The changes being floated are relatively modest, with this being the first step in what could eventually become something bigger for the brand.

That said, the company appears to be serious about setting things right inside America and may actually be in a unique position to pull this off.

With new vehicle prices having surpassed parody, any automaker building affordable vehicles may soon find themselves getting a lot of attention from customers who just want something that will work for under $40,000 and that’s basically all Mitsubishi sells.

A few years ago, your author speculated that Toyota would probably be having a good run as there was mounting evidence that Americans couldn’t really afford new automobiles. Reliability, practicality, and affordability will always win the day when money is tight and the manufacturer’s surging sales seem to reflect this. But Toyota is now having trouble keeping prices down and recently made some changes to its lineup and production that has made some fans worried about the longevity of certain models.

report mitsubishi planning dealer expansion more models for u s

According to a report from Automotive News, Mitsubishi doesn’t want to squander what looks to be a window of opportunity. And, with a market share of just 0.6 percent, the brand doesn’t have much to lose.

Last week, retailers were reportedly informed that the company intends to expand its North American lineup, nearly doubling its product offerings by 2030. Mitsubishi likewise wants to broaden the reach of its dealer network and is presently considering alternative retail concepts in addition to more traditional expansion plans. This includes creating small satellite storefronts, managed by existing dealerships, in regions Mitsubishi feels aren’t being adequately reached.

From Automotive News:

Mitsubishi Motors North America CEO Mark Chaffin said the brand’s 330 dealerships cover a mere third of the U.S. sales market. The automaker aims to bump that to more than 50 percent by the decade’s end.

The dealer network size “limits our ability to go to the next level in share and sales volume,” Chaffin said. “Increasing the number of stores will increase access to our products.”

Consumer interest in the redesigned Outlander crossover and its electrified variant was a revelation for Mitsubishi’s U.S. executives.

“I’ve received letters from consumers saying they saw the car on the road, saw our ads and liked the vehicle,” Chaffin said. “But they have no dealer nearby to make that purchase.”

Chaffin declined to disclose the number of new stores planned or the geographic markets targeted, but said Mitsubishi does not intend to “step on the toes of existing dealers.”

report mitsubishi planning dealer expansion more models for u s

As a younger man, I was absolutely obsessed with Mitsubishi due to the fact that the company was dedicated toward building high-value automobiles with most models having some kind of performance variant available. The brand was fielding sporting automobiles loaded with character that one could still utilize as a family vehicle and wouldn’t break the bank. While Toyota and Honda were typically offering more reliable products, Mitsubishi was still offering competitive options and much hotter deals.

But the company abandoned its performance-focused ethos because its zaibatsu management structure didn’t see it as sufficiently profitable. By the late 1990s, practically every Japanese brand was building excellent sports cars and the American automakers were likewise starting to get back into their groove. It was getting harder for Mitsubishi to compete after its joint venture with Chrysler ended and its niche in the market was beginning to vanish.

Record sales in 2002 resulted in Mitsubishi Motors doubling down on its decision to pivot further toward economy cars and SUVs. However, this also nuked the brand’s identity and U.S. volumes cratered immediately after that. Mitsubishi’s automotive arm now does the brunt of its business in Thailand and Indonesia — where it sells loads of small SUVs, a couple of economy sedans, and the Triton pickup.

report mitsubishi planning dealer expansion more models for u s

While nobody is willing to say which models the United States might be getting, retailers did tell Automotive News that Mitsubishi planned to deliver “an entry-priced plug-in hybrid crossover and a sporty passenger van this decade.”

The latter of the two appeals heavily to your author (who once modified a Plymouth Voyager to be as fast as its brittle transmission would allow) and perhaps six or seven other deranged people currently living in America. Plug-in hybrids also haven’t been the most popular vehicle type, trailing both pure-electric models and standard hybrids.

But Mitsubishi may be thinking long term, as there are few vehicles more versatile or practical than the humble minivan. In fact, the massive decline in demand we’ve seen for the body style seems to have stabilized. While they haven’t gotten any more popular, market analysts expect minivans to see modest growth in the years ahead — spurred primarily by more American families needing a single do-it-all vehicle.

report mitsubishi planning dealer expansion more models for u s

The last item alleged to come our way is an all-electric model developed in tandem with Nissan that we’ve covered before. Considering the regulatory situation, this probably has to happen. But EVs haven’t been getting much love in 2024, putting their future prospects into question.

It’s not exactly the performance renaissance some of us were hoping for. However, it does address some of the brand’s shortcomings inside the United States. It may also set the brand up for more exciting products if it succeeds.

Regardless, it’d be nice to know how consumers feel about all this, as we’ve been down this road before. Is Mitsubishi plotting the correct course of action or should it be trying to fill different gaps in the North American market? Truly affordable sporting vehicles seem to be evaporating. But Mitsubishi already appears to have handed that dwindling corner of the market over to Korean automakers. Meanwhile, there’s already a surplus of crossovers and SUVs with Mitsubishi’s main advantage being below average MSRPs.

report mitsubishi planning dealer expansion more models for u s

[Images: Mitsubishi]

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