Rather than pulling out of the U.S. market like Suzuki did last week, he outlined a plan that he hopes will help restore the brand’s lost market share. Through last month, the brand slipped to claiming a .04 percent slice compared to .07 percent last year. Its sales tumbled from 80,000 last year to a projected 55,000 this year. Despite that, Masuko is aiming to bounce back by next year and continue to grow.
In fact, he is projecting to have almost doubled this year’s sales by 2014, which seems almost hopeless considering the brand just dumped four of its main vehicles: the Eclipse coupe, Eclipse Spyder convertible, Galant sedan and Endeavor crossover.
Last week, he said the brand’s decline this year is due mostly to those models being cut, something he expects to change as Mitsubishi introduces new models.
One of those will be a plug-in hybrid version of the Outlander first seen in Geneva and slated for U.S. sale in 2014. Unfortunately, plug-in hybrids are proving to be slow sellers. Still more viable than fully electric vehicles, which only seem to be suffering, plug-in hybrids carry a premium too big for most buyers. While the brand doesn’t seem to be counting wholeheartedly on its fuel-frugal Outlander, its other planned new car seems like a rickety bridge to success.
That’s because Mitsubishi seems to be hinging its future in the U.S. on Thailand-built Mirage hatchback. In a move that looks a lot like someone playing full tilt poker, the brand is ramping up production from 150,000 a year to 200,000 to ship the cars Stateside.
It will also boost production in its Illinois plant of the Outlander Sport small crossover, from 50,000 to 70,000 in order to boost exports to Russia, the Middle East and Latin America.
[Source: Automotive News]