After a debilitating period of declining sales, Mitsubishi is demonstrating a newfound resilience, taking advantage of a strong sales market in the U.S. to rebuild what were flailing operations here.
The company made its presence felt during the Chicago Auto Show with the introduction of its GC-PHEV concept. Don Swearingen, executive vice president of Mitsubishi Motors North America, noted after the concept’s press conference that the Japanese automaker boosted its sales by 25% during 2014 and the company is off to a promising start with a 33% increase in January.
“We’re profitable and our dealers are profitable,” noted Swearingen during a subsequent interview. “Mitsubishi is here to stay in the U.S.”
Swearingen also said Mitsubishi will show off its new Outlander at the New York International Auto Show and move on to four revamped models over the next 16 months, including a new Outlander Sport, Mirage and Lancer.
At the same time, Mitsubishi can’t afford to have a new product fail, he said.
Mitsubishi is also working to strengthen its other elements of the business. Mitsubishi’s 400 dealers are committed to the brand and the company’s goal now is to keep them profitable.
(Mitsubishi plugs into Chicago with Concept GC-PHEV. For more, Click Here.)
The company also has organized a dealer council to provide advice about Mitsubishi’s ongoing marketing efforts. “We have to do more with less,” he said. At the same time, the advertising has to be impactful in an era of intense competition.
(Click Here for details about the sales wave that Mitsubishi is riding.)
“Clearly we have to do more through the media and public relations,” he added.
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Last year, Mitsubishi also succeeded in converting the preferred shares it had to grant to three different Mitsubishi companies during an earlier crisis. “It was important for our investors,” he noted.
The support of the other Mitsubishi companies has been critical and it is also a key reason why he is confident that the company will not withdraw from the U.S. Mitsubishi has successful automotive operations in other parts of the world, but considers the U.S. business important to its overall strategy and prospects long term.