Mitsubishi said today that it forecasts operating profits will rise 48 percent in the fiscal year that began on April 1.
The prediction is based on the depreciated yen and an anticipated sales surge in the U.S. as the brand prepares new models for the market. Through the January-March quarter, Mitsubishi enjoyed a $199.7 million foreign exchange gain as the yen slipped against the Greenback.
If the prediction proves to be the case, it could position the company’s operating profit within reach of its $1.15 billion record set on March 31, 2007.
But the rosy picture painted by those numbers stands in stark contrast to stories about the brand only a few months ago. Last last year, Mitsubishi’s market share had slipped from .07 percent to .04 amid emaciated sales reports.
Last November, brand boss Osamu Masuko attributed the falling figures to a slashed product line and at the time U.S. sales were projected to finish the year at 55,000 units. Mitsubishi actually beat estimates, reporting 57,790 units according to Automotive News data. Nevertheless, that represented a 27 percent drop compared to 2011.
Now, Mitsubishi hopes bringing its new Outlander utility vehicle and Mirage sub-compact, among others farther down the road, to the U.S. will feed a sales surge. That could be the case, but both products will need squeaky-clean launches if they hope to succeed. You only need to look at the Lincoln MKZ, which is currently limping through a launch hampered by quality issues, to see why.
Unfortunately, the warning signs are already there. Mitsubishi halted production of the plug-in hybrid Outlander last month because of overheating battery packs. Those vehicles are isolated to the Japanese market, but a similar battery issue could cripple sales — just ask Fisker.
Meanwhile, the Mirage is targeting the same crowd as Chevrolet’s Spark: frugal, and often young, drivers. That might prove to be a home run, although pricing for the car is still unannounced in the U.S.
GALLERY: Mitsubishi Mirage
[Source: Automotive News]