Mitsubishi’s U.S. fortunes saw a slight improvement in 2010, but in order to sustain that growth, the company needs new products as soon as possible. Fortunately, the plan outlined by company president Osamu Masuko earlier this morning calls for just that.
The first step apparently involves killing the present crop of U.S.-built Mitsubishi models, including the Galant sedan, Eclipse coupe and spyder, and Endeavor SUV. Each of these three models are presently manufactured within Mitsubishi’s plant in Normal, Illinois, but will apparently fade into history by 2014, at the very latest.
The Normal plant won’t, however, be abandoned, as the company does plan on building a new model within the U.S. An inside source tells us the new model will likely be based upon Mitsubishi’s GM platform, which underpins the likes of the Lancer, Outlander, and Outlander Sport models. We haven’t heard the details on what the U.S.-built vehicle would be, but our source wagers the vehicle will likely be a SUV-like model.
Despite cutting the four models from its local U.S. lineup and not replacing them immediately, Masuko predicts that Mitsubishi’s sales will continue to increase as production ramps up. Importing more vehicles from Japan and other manufacturing centers should fill the void until the plant begins rolling out cars.
“Our sales in North America will increase,” Masuko said when he revealed the business plan. “We’ll still be selling cars brought in from Japan, and we’ll be adding the Global Small Car as well.”
We’ve yet to see the Global Small car in its production form, but a thinly disguised concept will be unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show in March. Small cars, like the B-segment GSC, will play a large role in Mitsuibishi’s future product plans, and the automaker plans on forging relationships with both Nissan and PSA Peugeot Citroen to expand development of such vehicles.
Predictably, plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles will also play an increased role in Mitsubishi’s future. The automaker says it plans on launching no less than eight PHEV or EV models by 2015, and had previously noted it aimed to engineer each new model with the capacity for such a variation. The egg-shaped I finally makes its U.S. debut later this year, but a plug-in hybrid crossover -- modeled after the PX-MiEV concept -- and another PHEV are due to launch in 2012. 2013 will see the introduction of another EV and PHEV, while two plug-ins and an additional electric model are slated for the 2014-2015 timeframe.
Despite the emphasis on small cars and electric vehicles, Mitsubishi’s product plan does take one curious turn: apparently, the automaker is quite interested in developing a full-size, one-ton pickup. According the release, the vehicle will be co-developed with Nissan (and likely bear some resemblance to the next Titan), but we’re surprised the automaker’s interested in pursuing such a vehicle, considering the disappointing sales of the midsize, Dodge Dakota-based Raider.
Despite the market collapse of 2008 and a rather sluggish economy, Mitsubishi notes it actually managed to achieve most of the goals it set in its previous business plans. Masuko has no plans on backing his company away from the U.S. market, and seems determined that this new agenda will allow the automaker to succeed. Only time will tell.