It’s no secret that Mitsubishi has been underperforming in U.S. sales for the past several years. It’s not that they build a bad car, it’s just that they spend precious little on marketing their vehicles and don’t follow the industry formula of a fresh new look every two years or so. When was the last time you saw a Mitsubishi TV or print ad, or heard of a new Mitsubishi dealership opening up?
Take the Galant, Eclipse and Endeavor, for example. All three are built in Mitsubishi’s Normal, IL plant and all three are based on the PS platform. The PS platform is getting on in years, as it was originally developed back in 2003, and sales of these models are weak and getting weaker. Mitsubishi has already stated that a decision on their future, and what will be built in the Normal, IL facility, is pending. If I was a betting man, I’d expect that all three will be discontinued after the current model year.
That’s not all doom and gloom, however, since it makes financial sense for Mitsubishi to begin building other models in Normal, IL. The Lancer is Mitsubishi’s best selling car in the United States, and building it here would increase profit margins significantly. A “global” small car will be introduced sometime in 2012, with an anticipated price of $12,000. Based on current exchange rates, Mitsubishi couldn’t import such a low cost vehicle at a profit, so building it here is a reasonable alternative. The MiEV and the PX MiEV will be modified for the U.S. consumer, so it probably makes sense to build these here as well.
I’d like to see Mitsubishi succeed, as I’ve owned several of their cars. If you get the product mix right, like Mitsubishi has done in the past, you don’t need a huge marketing budget to move inventory.