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HarleyEarl

Mitsubishi Motors Corp.

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Mitsubishi touts its Japanese heritage

While other Asian automakers try to hide their overseas origins, it will promote them.

By Bryce G. Hoffman / The Detroit News


ROMULUS -- Armed with new models and free gas incentives, struggling Mitsubishi Motors Corp. is hoping to win back lost ground in the American market by turning its Japanese roots into a selling point.

"While our competitors are kind of hiding from the fact that they are Japanese (we want) to celebrate the Japanese-ness of our brand," said Dave Schembri, head of sales and marketing for Mitsubishi Motors North America Inc. "If you want the American story, we have that as well."

Speaking at a press event in Romulus marking the launch of its new Raider pickup - which will be built in Warren - Schembri said Mitsubishi's marketing research shows that most Americans associate Japanese products with quality and value. So, while other Asian automakers try to hide their overseas origins by promoting their made-in-America products, Mitsubishi is peppering its advertisements with sumi brushstrokes and taiko drums. It is all part of an effort to ride the wave of "J-cool" -- a love affair with all things Japanese, notably comics, video games, and animation -- that Schembri compares to the British invasion of the 1960s.

Not everyone is convinced it is a good idea.

"It's controversial," said Jim Sanfilippo, senior industry analyst with AMCI Inc. in Bloomfield Hills. "I'm not sure what value that has with the American consumer."

After plunging 37 percent in 2004, Mitsubishi's U.S. sales have dropped another 30 percent this year. But in August, sales rose 2.1 percent from a year ago. The gain has been cause for celebration at a company that has not seen any increases for two years. Schembri credits much up of that increase to the new Eclipse sports coupe.

"We're on a good roll now with our Eclipse launch," Schembri said, adding that the company hopes to keep that momentum going with the Raider.

Launched last week, the Raider marks Mitsubishis return to the American truck market after a 10-year hiatus. The midsize pickup, which is based on the Dodge Dakota, is being manufactured through a partnership with DaimlerChrysler AG, which owns 12.9 percent of the Japanese automaker.

Mitsubishi hopes the Raider will draw a new crop of customers. But it also puts the company squarely in competition with strong-selling models like the Ford Ranger and Toyota Tacoma.

"It's a very, very crowded market," Sanfilippo said.

Schembri acknowledged the Ranger, Tacoma and others are going to be tough products to beat, but he is confident the new Mitsubishi pickup offers a unique mix of sporty styling and under-the-hood power that will make it stand out from the pack.

The Raider is the only mid-size pickup with an import nameplate to feature a V-8. Mitsubishi is planning to roll out six more new models over the next 26 months. While it enjoys strong brand recognition, model recognition is weak with consumers.

Mitsubishi's new "gasoline comes standard" sales campaign is another important part of the company's turnaround. The promotion, which runs through October, gives motorists who purchase any 2005 Mitsubishi a year's worth of gasoline valued at $1,500 to $2,500.

You can reach Bryce G. Hoffman at (313) 222-2443 or bhoffman@detnews.com
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Japanese-ness? W-O-W... A few flaws: 1) 'J-Cool' as I understand it is still mainly a youth phenomenon that resonates with those either too young to buy a car or cannot afford a new one. 2) Heavy youth marketing tends to turn off older buyers, with the main example being Mitsubishi's own rock/trance-soundtracked campaigns. 3) Schembri acknowledges some competition, but not a big one - the Dodge Dakota. You're getting the same truck for essentially the same price from a reputable nameplate. 4) Perhaps its just me, but I don't think there's any pent-up demand for a Mitsubishi trucks; no rabid fans waiting for the Mighty Max to come back from the dead. Where's the market for this truck that's differentiated only in styling? 5) The free gas deal shows again that Mitsubishi has to resort to gimmicks to move cars. One thinks they would've learned from years of such attempts.
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Schembri acknowledged the Ranger, Tacoma and others are going to be tough products to beat, but he is confident the new Mitsubishi pickup offers a unique mix of sporty styling and under-the-hood power that will make it stand out from the pack.

[post="20634"]<{POST_SNAPBACK}>[/post]


LOL... the tacoma maybe... but the RANGER? AHAHAHAHHAHAHALOLOLOLOL!!!11oneone

but to be fair, the ranger isnt a bad truck, and its the only compact one still being made. Edited by Teh Ricer Civic!
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I think they probably meant the sales volume of the Ranger. It stills sells well, for some unknown reason. It is truly retro.
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hey brian, GM is the mother/king of gimmicks, though. EMPLOYEE PRICING? Red Tag sale, etc. Mits alone didn't do it. Edited by regfootball
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The difference is that it worked for GM.
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hey brian, GM is the mother/king of gimmicks, though.

EMPLOYEE PRICING?

Red Tag sale, etc.

Mits alone didn't do it.

[post="20775"]<{POST_SNAPBACK}>[/post]


So is your mother. <--- Same style of argument.

Whether or not GM had sales gimmicks isn't my point. Every is well aware that virtually all car companies do it/have done it to a certain extent. I'm merely calling attention to Mitsubishi's alarming dependence on gimmicks to sell cars - whether it be the whole desperately trying to be hip motiff or ZERO! ZERO! ZERO! event (which was perhaps the most ironically inappropriate campaign for Mitsu) - and the amazing lack of success to those gimmicks. Sales of what's left of its core models keep falling and falling, bolstered only by the introduction of a brand-new Eclipse that's arguable the reason why Mitsubishi stays in business, at least in the name-recognition sense.

And mock Employee Pricing as much as you want. Guess what? It worked.
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"I'm merely calling attention to Mitsubishi's alarming dependence on gimmicks to sell cars" scratch out "Mitsubishi", insert "(GM Brand)" here. its 'worked' basically only twice for GM. Once after 9/11, and just now for employee pricing. I'm sorry, but GM has had just an alarming dependence and its been no more successful otherwise. And c'mon, 6000 dollar and more rebates? Typical GM fare. GM's been running constantly on gimmicks since Sept 11, 2001. You have no leg to stand on trying to crucify another carmaker for the exact same sort of thing GM is the industry leader for. Do you know how horrible the sales for GM would be right now had they not pulled the Employee discount out of their ass 4 months ago? And now, they just keep riding it like a great big joke. GM's red ink and sales losses just kept mounting for most of this year and it took the monster of all gimmicks to fuck the public into thinking they were getting some spectacular once in a lifetime deal. That is the biggest gimmick of all time! Edited by regfootball
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Dude, take the Mitsubishi martial aid out of your keister for a few seconds.

The fact that you're defending Mitsubishi's failings with some of GM's failings says something about your argument. I never said word one about GM's craptastic dependence on incentives. Why? Because its not relevant to the fact that Mitsubishi cannot sell undesireable products. Whether GM, Ford, or whoever else offers incentives doesn't make it wise business practice for Mitsubishi to and doesn't excuse their own failings.

I have no other response.
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Even Kevin Bacon has at least 6 degrees of separation.
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Dude, take the Mitsubishi martial aid out of your keister for a few seconds.

The fact that you're defending Mitsubishi's failings with some of GM's failings says something about your argument. I never said word one about GM's craptastic dependence on incentives. Why? Because its not relevant to the fact that Mitsubishi cannot sell undesireable products. Whether GM, Ford, or whoever else offers incentives doesn't make it wise business practice for Mitsubishi to and doesn't excuse their own failings.

I have no other response.

[post="20943"]<{POST_SNAPBACK}>[/post]


both are the same. Neither GM nor Mits can move most of their cars without them. So the pot calling the kettle black stuff is not a viable point number five.

You have no other response because you know its true. Gm can't move iron without insane gimmicks either. So its simply not fair to rip on anyone for that. Be it Ford, Mits, VW, whoever. And that's ALL I'm pointing out, is that its hypocritical to say it, even though its true.

Mazda's incentives are actually some of the highest right now. Your average Mazda 6 has about 6 grand in total discounts on the hood right now. Mazda is incentivizing leases on RX-8's so they can persuade anyone to take em for 200 bucks a month.

The failure of the Mits zero zero zero program was very real, but it was because their lame ass customers couldn't afford to make payments on their cars. From a marketing aspect, their sales went up like 43% in two years. The fault was poor finance screening, not the cars. It wasn't the maker's fault.

Your point number 5 was just a potshot and nothing else. Even if it were Ford or whatever, I would have to call 'you' on the carpet for it, even if it wasn't you. It's insane for a die hard GM fan to make a point of saying 'x' and 'x' has to resort to incentives to move cars. I'm simply pointing out the hypocrisy in that statement, if it were anyone else ripping on any other competitor, your point #5 is just inherently hypocritical.

whatever. You can say its not related. Its the same thing.

one advantage a Raider has over a Dakota is a better warranty. Edited by regfootball
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It wasn't a potshot. A potshot would be:

5) Mitsu cars suck balls.

You admit yourself that its a fact. If I were comparing GM to Mitsubishi and called upon Mitsu's lame gimmicks without saying a thing about GM's then, yes, I would be hypocritical.

You also admit yourself that while none of Mitsubishi's gimmicks worked, several of GM's has. In that same vein - depending on how things pan out over the next year - the latest Employee Pricing program could be viewed as an excellent though belated segue from the vicious cycle of monster incentives to a more reasonable pricing structure. GM sales will continue to increase in many sectors (profitability is another, more complex story).

You can name-call Mitsubishi buyers (thereby indicting yourself as lameass?), but the simple fact remains that the program failed.

And even if my fifth point were conceded, the other four remain largely valid. Add to them the fact that the Japanese core of Mitsubishi exists on shaky grounds in many ways and the fact that they had/have one of the most out-of-touch and duplicative lineups of any brand.

As far as the warranty deal, yeah sorta.
Raider: 5/60 bumper-to-bumper, 7/100 corrosion
Dakota: 3/36 bumper-to-bumper, 7/70 powertrain, 5/100 corrosion
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It was a thread about mitsu, not mitsu vs. GM. Not bringing up an unrelated company's pratices is hardly "hypocritical". Must FlyBri likewise mention every other incentive-reliant marque/corporation for his points about mitsu to be legit???
This incessant 'but what about GM??' is exactly the same type of crap my 2 sons argue over all the time and they don't get it either.
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