One of the industry’s most resilient brands, Mitsubishi is hoping to build on the momentum it has developed during the past couple of years with the launch of the redesigned 2020 Outlander.
Mitsubishi has been the fastest growing Asian brand for two consecutive years and is aiming to make it three years in a row in 2019, noted Fred Diaz, Mitsubishi Motors North America president and CEO, during a lunch at MMNA’s engineering office in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and posted its best sales in this past March since 2004.
Diaz said MMNA’s strategy to repair the company’s relations with dealers, which was shattered during the in the years leading up to and during the Great Recession when many observers believed the company would be forced to pull out of the U.S., hasn’t been easy but remains a priority.
“We want to be known as OEM that listens,” said Diaz, who came over from Nissan in February 2018, who meets with dealers every other month.
(Mitsubishi to debut Engelberg Tourer Concept in Geneva. Click Here for the story.)
The effort seems to be working, he noted, pointing to results of a recent J.D. Power survey of Customer Satisfaction. Mitsubishi’s results in the 2019 J.D. Power Customer Satisfaction Index improved 27 points, the most of any brand in the industry, jumping from 21st to 12th position in the overall industry ranking.
Among non-luxury brands, Mitsubishi jumped from 10th position in 2018 to the number three position this year. Customer satisfaction is a core value at Mitsubishi Motors, and its performance in the J.D. Power CSI Study over the last two years is testament to that focus, Diaz said.
Diaz also said Mitsubishi also is actively recruiting new dealers. After adding 45 new dealerships last year, it currently has 367 and Diaz said he would like the figure to grow to between 475 and 500.
“We never going to go back to 600,” he said, but the company is looking to add stores in Northeast around Boston and New York as well as in major metropolitan areas such as San Francisco and Houston.
At the same time, it is looking at bolstering the company’s product portfolio with vehicles such as the 2020 Outlander Sport, the compact utility vehicle that has been the company’s most popular vehicles inn diverse markets such as North America, Australia and China.
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For 2020, the Outlander Sport has been given a major refresh that includes a major overhaul under the robust and ingenious design philosophy, which emphasize the brand’s reputation for toughness, according to Nate Berg, MMNA director of product planning.
The redesign of 2020 Outlander Sports gives the vehicle a new front fascia and makes the hood deeper, adding to the presence projected by the front end and the distinctive LEDs, which are now standard equipment. The LED places the turn signals and fog lamps at the end of the bumper.
In the rear, the 2020 Outland Sport uses LED rear combination lamps except for the turns in a design that stretches across the width of the car and accentuates the wide stance. The skid plant styling of the underside of the bumper projects a look of strength, which is part of Mitsubishi’s heritage of toughness and durability.
“There are also major changes to the interior, Berg said.
The interior also has been restyled to include a horizontal instrument panel and center console that makes it easy for the driver to grasp the key controls and a new 8-inch touchscreen in the center stack as an attention to details and craftsmanship that emphasize the vehicles usability.
(To see more about Fred Diaz leaving Nissan to run Mitsubishi Motors North America, Click Here.)
Berg said MMNA’s plans call for offering the Outlander Sport in three different trim levels and retaining the Outlander Sport’s current price position or band within the compact utility vehicle segment.