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Mitsubishi CEO pledges to stay in U.S., wants to quadruple sales

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Mitsubishi CEO pledges to stay in U.S., wants to quadruple sales

Hans Greimel

Automotive News -- September 22, 2010 - 3:52 pm ET

TOKYO -- Mitsubishi Motors Corp. President Osamu Masuko says the company won't pull out of the U.S. market and that his personal mid-range sales target is 200,000 units a year, or roughly four times today's level of 50,000.

Masuko acknowledged that the Japanese carmaker has fallen hard since its U.S. sales peaked at 354,111 vehicles in 2002. But he sees sales reversing their steady decline and expanding this year and next. New products, patience, moderate incentives and sustainable growth will be the key, he says.

“People have been asking me for the past six years whether Mitsubishi's going to withdraw from the market,” Masuko said in a Tuesday interview. “But it never enters my mind.”

“We have never thought about withdrawing from the U.S. market, and we will not do so.”

Mitsubishi's U.S. sales are off about 4 percent to 36,431 units through August in an overall market that is up 8 percent year-to-date.

Gradual growth

Mitsubishi's rapid expansion in the early 2000s was fueled by unprecedented 0 percent financing. A more rapid plunge in sales, spurred by the global financial crisis, has prompted analysts to wonder whether Mitsubishi might be the next Japanese carmaker to quit the U.S. market following Isuzu's pullout in January 2009.

The company needs more disciplined incentives to gradually build sales, Masuko said.

The automaker's average incentives came down roughly $270 per vehicle in the April-June quarter but were still above $3,000 per unit, he said. For the full fiscal year ending March 31, 2011, Masuko said the automaker's average annual incentive should decline to under $3,000.

Mitsubishi will unveil a mid-term business plan, probably in November, and provide a detailed forecast for its U.S. operations. The company will also outline a plan to revive its under-utilized assembly plant in Normal, Ill., Masuko said. It may entail a new model or platform to be built there.

“We're always talking about what the best scale for our sales in the United States would be,” Masuko said. “But my personal opinion is that in the United States, I don't know how many years it would take, but our target could be around 200,000 units.”

For the current fiscal year ending March 31, 2011, Mitsubishi wants U.S. sales of 68,000 units, up from 54,000 last year. Sales should rise again the following year, aided by the introduction of the new Outlander Sport small SUV, Masuko said.

Change coming

Overhauling a U.S. lineup heavy in outdated vehicles such as the Galant sedan, Eclipse sport coupe and Endeavor SUV will be essential to any turnaround.

Masuko said to expect changes.

“I cannot speak about it too concretely, but from what we know at the moment, it is not possible to continue with the models that we have had,” he said.

Long oriented toward SUVs and large sedans, the company now wants to shrink with smaller, fuel efficient cars. Electric vehicles also figure into its future. The i-MiEV electric car will be arriving in the United States next year and will be followed by the PX MiEV plug-in hybrid.

Instead of toiling on cars designed for developed markets, such as the Eclipse, Mitsubishi is pursuing world cars with more universal appeal. Sales trends support the new priorities.

North America is by far the smallest market for Mitsubishi. The region accounted for just 9 percent of the company's global unit sales in the fiscal year ended March 31.

Read more: http://www.autonews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20100922/OEM/100929947/1179#ixzz10IkM0lS7

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Bring back a decent, light weight, AWD optional, Turbo charged, Eclipse and Galant and we'll think about it.

Mitsubishi was my only ever serious consideration away from the domestics (via Eagle). I wanted a '98 Eagle Talon like no other when I was in college.

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Talk of quadrupling sales makes it sound like they've been drinking the VW kool-aid of outrageous growth predictions..

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Mitsubishi CEO: We will not withdraw from U.S. market

by Jeff Glucker (RSS feed) on Sep 23rd 2010 at 9:00AM

Mitsubishi has had a very rough road the last few years. Its sales have fallen steadily since a peak year in 2002 when the brand pushed 354,111 units out the door. According to Automotive News, Osamu Masuko, President and CEO of Mitsubishi Motors Corporation, says he is often asked if the Japanese automaker is ready to pull out of the U.S. market. "It never enters my mind," he says.

The company with the triple diamond logo has big plans and lofty goals for the near future. Currently, Mitsubishi moves around 50,000 vehicles per year and Masuko's personal goal is to push that figure to 200,000 vehicles – an increase of 400 percent. He believes the path to his goals is through new products and moderate incentives, both of which will help drive steady and sustainable growth.

The product lineup is shifting away from a past littered with larger sedans and SUVs. Mitsubishi is going to aim for smaller, more fuel efficient vehicles as well as all-electric vehicles such as the i-MiEV. In addition, it plans to move away from regional vehicles to develop consistent global platforms. Since the U.S. market only accounts for less than 10 percent of global sales, this sounds like a smart move, but smaller vehicles often bring smaller profit potential, so it will be interesting to see if Mitsu can thrive with this sort of a business plan.

Osamu Masuko's bottom line is that changes are coming, Mitsubishi is going to turn its ship around starting this year with new offerings like the Outlander Sport, and it remains committed to regaining its past success in the American market.

link:

http://www.autoblog.com/2010/09/23/mitsubishi-ceo-we-will-not-withdraw-from-u-s-market/

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I'd like to know how they're going to add sales, let alone quadruple them.

Then again, 1000 x 4 = 4000. I'm sure they could hit 4000. What are their sales numbers?

EDIT:

CYPRESS, Calif. - Mitsubishi Motors North America (MMNA) today announced August sales of 4,293, which is the fourth highest monthly sales total for Mitsubishi this year.

Meh, I don't see them selling 17,000 in a month ever with this lineup. That's slightly more than Buick in August, and Buick's lineup is worlds better than Mitsubishi's.

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MITSUBISHI CEO REAFFIRMS COMMITMENT TO U.S. MARKET

By Drew Johnson

Mitsubishi’s decision to vacate its U.S. vice president of procurement and supply position threw into question the company’s future in the United States market, but Mitsubishi CEO Osamu Masuko says the Japanese automaker has no plans to leave the U.S. market.

“People have been asking me for the past six years whether Mitsubishi's going to withdraw from the market,” Masuko said. “But it never enters my mind.”

Mitsubishi ht a U.S. sales peak in 2002 – selling 354,111 vehicles – but now managed only about 50,000 U.S. sales per year. However, Masuko believes Mitsubishi can top 200,000 annual U.S. sales in the mid-term. Through the first eight months of the year, Mitsubishi tallied 36,500 U.S. deliveries.

Mitsubishi’s success in the early 2000s was fueled by 0 percent financing and heavy incentives, but Masuko says Mitsubishi’s latest U.S. push will focus on an improved vehicle lineup. Masuko stopped short of revealing when new models might be on the way, but acknowledged “it is not possible to continue with the models that we have had.”

link:

http://www.leftlanenews.com/mitsubishi-ceo-reaffirms-commitment-to-u-s-market.html

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Mitsubishi CEO Refuses To Leave U.S. Market

By Nelson Ireson

Editor

September 23rd, 2010

It might sound like a response to a question no one was asking, but Mitsubishi Motors CEO Osamu Masuko says he's not even thinking about leaving the U.S. market. Mitsubishi, like many other carmakers, has struggle over the past decade, but Masuko says the U.S. will remain at the core of Mitsubishi's plan for the foreseeable future.

Mitsubishi's U.S. sales have declined steadily since 2002, now sitting at roughly on seventh their peak of over 354,000 vehicles. Part of the problem is a lackluster lineup headlined by a car that many want but few can afford: the Lancer Evolution, our favorite car in the lineup. Outside of the Lancer range, Mitsubishi's offerings, including the Eclipse, look and feel dated.

An all-new Outlander Sport may put a fresh face on things for the company, but as of right now, Mitsubishi is offering only five different models: Outlander, Endeavor, Eclipse, Lancer, and Galant. Each model has its variants, including the convertible Eclipse Spyder and three versions of the Lancer, but it's still a rather tiny lineup to be targeting 200,000-plus sales in the U.S.

The Outlander Sport, itself another crossover, could hit a sweeter spot in terms of sales volume, as its smallish size, efficient 148-horsepower 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, and relatively low pricing are likely to appeal to younger buyers. Available all-wheel drive and premium upgrade packages could also push it in front of the mid-range crowd looking for a smaller alternative to U.S. brands.

Mitsubishi isn't planning to turn its luck around overnight, however. Instead, a slow-growth process will hopefully put sales back over the 200,000 mark several years down the road, according to Masuko. That would require quadrupling the current near-50,000 cars sold annually, making it a lofty goal indeed simply to return to half its former high-water mark. The company will reveal a new business plan in the fourth quarter.

link:

http://www.thecarconnection.com/marty-blog/1049673_mitsubishi-ceo-refuses-to-leave-u-s-market

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Mitsubishi is a seriously damaged brand. They should just get out of the US. The only car I ever see in any numbers is the Lancer. They should find another niche automaker combine forces and come back as a new brand if they are going to make it in the US market.

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Talk of quadrupling sales makes it sound like they've been drinking the VW kool-aid of outrageous growth predictions..

VW will shoot themselves in the foot by decontenting the Jetta and trying to do too much. thier dealer network is already the worst of any MFR that sells in the US.\

Other than the EBO, there is absolutely nothing to reccomend mitsu as a brand...

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Mitsubishi should just leave the US, they clutter up the market. Much like Isuzu, they just aren't needed.

Same w/ Suzuki...Suzuki is invisible in the US market.

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