Mitsubishi has a pretty thin vehicle lineup in the U.S., but it will barrage the market with new Eclipse Cross and Outlander PHEV crossovers to boost sales 30 percent by 2020. While it remains focused on crossovers for the U.S., the automaker could leverage its membership in the Renault-Nissan Alliance to introduce other new vehicles, including a sedan and maybe even a pickup.
Speaking with Automotive News, Mitsubishi CEO Osamu Masuko said opportunities for new vehicles will come after 2020. At this time, Mitsubishi will share platforms and powertrains with Renault-Nissan, which could help Mitsubishi develop a sedan destined for the U.S. market.
“It wouldn’t be just a rebadge. The design will be completely different,” Masuko said. “We would like to clearly differentiate our models and show the special characteristics of each company.” Now we’re left wondering if the new model can fill the void of the discontinued Lancer.
There are no concrete plans to introduce a Mitsubishi sedan, Masuko says. The automaker also hasn’t made a final decision on a pickup for the U.S., although it’s another option on the table. America’s affinity for big trucks presents a potential problem because Mitsubishi typically builds smaller trucks.
“We are focused on developing pickups for non-U.S. markets such as [Southeast Asia] and the Middle East,” Masuko said. “So for the U.S., if there is an opportunity, we might get it from Nissan. We would like to consider if there are opportunities from within the Alliance.”
Mitsubishi is working to increase the number of its showrooms, and it hopes that joining the Renault-Nissan Alliance will make dealers more confident of its plans to stay in the U.S. Masuko says plug-in hybrid technology will prove important to enhancing Mitsubishi’s brand power in this market. Mitsubishi envisions electric vehicles, fuel cells, and autonomous cars coming down the line as it cooperates with Nissan.
Mitsubishi joined the Renault-Nissan Alliance last year after Nissan purchased a 34-percent stake in the company. At the time, Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn boasted the deal would make the trio one of the world’s three largest automotive groups.