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More New Debuts Announced for LA Auto Show

50 unveilings planned from Porsche, Nissan, Range Rover, Ford, others.

by on Oct.21, 2015

Expect the production version of the Infiniti QX30 to make its formal debut in L.A. next month.

The 2015 Los Angeles Auto Show is shaping up to be a big event, with at least 50 new products set to make their U.S. or global debuts during the two-day media preview.

The LA show also expects to put a premium on technology, with a third day devoted specifically to new connected car technology. And the annual “Green Car of the Year” will be unveiled, as well, at the Los Angeles Convention Center.

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Porsche, Buick, Ford, Range Rover, Nissan, Infiniti and Jaguar are among the manufacturers who’ve already scheduled more than 30 separate product unveilings during the annual media preview. Volvo, Hyundai and a variety of industry suppliers will also hold news conferences to discuss technology breakthroughs.


Mitsubishi Abandoning Illinois Assembly Plant, Cutting More than 900 Jobs

Long-troubled Japanese maker says it remains committed to American market.

by on Jul.24, 2015

Mitsubishi announced it will close is manufacturing plant in Normal, Illinois, eliminating 900 jobs.

A day after the first reports surfaced on Japanese media, Mitsubishi Motors has confirmed it will shutter its aging and underutilized assembly plant in Normal, Illinois, a move that will cost more than 900 jobs.

That follows a failed effort to find effort to find a partner to share production at the facility that originally opened as part of a joint venture with Chrysler. But Mitsubishi officials stressed they plan to continue selling vehicles in the U.S. and point to a recent upturn in demand.

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“Following a review of Mitsubishi Motor Corp.’s global supply chain, we have been informed it is necessary to end production and seek a strategic buyer for the Normal plant,” announced the maker’s U.S. subsidiary, Mitsubishi Motor Sales of America, in a prepared statement. (more…)

Mitsubishi Reportedly Abandoning US Assembly Plant

Will long-troubled Japanese maker walk away from the US Entirely?

by on Jul.24, 2015

The 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander is meant to help the Japanese maker regain ground in the U.S. market.

After failing to find a new manufacturing partner, long-struggling Mitsubishi Motors reportedly will abandon its assembly plant in Normal, Illinois – a move that raises questions about the maker’s longer-term commitment to the U.S. market.

The Japanese maker is said to be making a strategic shift in focus to the Asian market, according to a report in Japan’s Nikkei news service. But the move comes as little surprise to those familiar with the Illinois operation. It has been operating for years at well under its production capacity, running up millions of dollars in annual losses.

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“We have no statement at this time,” said Alex Fedorak, senior spokesman for Mitsubishi Motor Sales of America, or MMSA.

The mayor of the southern Illinois community, Chris Koo, said, meanwhile, that he has “heard nothing” from the automaker on any change in plan. Nor had Kyle Young, the vice president of United Auto Workers Union Local 2488, which represents the 918 workers at the factory.


First Drive: 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander

Quiet, roomy and affordable. Oh, and did we mention real knobs?

by on Jun.11, 2015

The 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander is one of the most affordable 7-seaters on the market.

Mitsubishi, remember them? The once popular marque was an alternative to traditional Japanese brands like Toyota and Honda, and offered such intriguing products as the 300GT and the Evo. After a series of missteps that nearly drove it into bankruptcy, Mitsubishi is struggling to regain some momentum with a barely-there line-up that will increasingly be focused on utility vehicles.

We’ve seen some intriguing hints of what might be coming in the form of some recent, over-the-top concept vehicles like the GC-PHEV that was unveiled at the Chicago Auto Show last February. Mitsubishi insiders promise that we’ll see these edgy prototypes translate into production form with the launch of the new Outlander Sport a few years from now.

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In the meantime, Mitsubishi is updating its other crossover model for 2016, and while the Outlander adopts a far less extreme design language, it is definitely not going to get lost in the crowd.


Mitsubishi “Here to Stay” – But in What Form?

Long-struggling Japanese maker beats the odds, but needs help from outside.

by on Jun.04, 2015

Mitsubishi officials are counting on the appeal of sport-utes to drive sales of its Outlander while it searches for a partner in the U.S.

In the lingo of the auto industry, there are minor updates, major refreshes, complete makeovers – and on occasion, a Hail Mary Pass. Mitsubishi Motors has had to throw several of those since barely dodging bankruptcy during the Great Recession.

A look at the Japanese maker’s latest numbers suggests a few of them have resulted in scores. Mitsubishi Motor Sales of America reported its first operating profit in some time for 2014. And last month, it reported its best sales figures since 2008.

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That news coincides with the launch of MMSA’s 2016 Outlander utility vehicle. A “major-minor,” to stick with industry-speak, it gets more than just the normal mid-lifecycle tweaks. And it will have to carry a bigger load than in the past as Mitsubishi trims down its line-up, shifting focus primarily to its utility vehicles. (more…)

New Mitsubishi Outlander Set for NY Auto Show Reveal

Plug-in hybrid version expected to follow.

by on Mar.23, 2015

A first look at the 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander.

What could be the make-it-or-break-it model for Mitsubishi Motors will put in its debut appearance at the New York International Auto Show next week.

The 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander will be a complete remake of the long-struggling Japanese automaker’s primary crossover-utility vehicle. And it is expected to bring to the U.S. market Mitsubishi’s new plug-in hybrid drivetrain – though it’s unclear whether the PHEV version will be available at launch.

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“The 2016 Outlander is a refined crossover utility vehicle that features over 100 engineering and design improvements,” said a company statement accompanying these two teaser images, “including a new, powerful and dynamic appearance, enhanced road performance as the result of improvements to noise levels, ride, handling and throttle response, and a more eloquent yet functional interior space.”


Mitsubishi Riding US Sales Wave to Renewed Success

Dealers becoming more involved in marketing decisions.

by on Feb.13, 2015

Mitsubishi Motors North America Executive Vice President said the maker is riding the current sales wave to success in the U.S.

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.

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“We’re profitable and our dealers are profitable,” noted Swearingen during a subsequent interview. “Mitsubishi is here to stay in the U.S.” (more…)

Five CUVs Flunk New Overlap Crash Test; only Subaru Forester Rated “Good”

Test designed to replicate real-world crashes.

by on May.16, 2013

The Subaru Forester was specifically designed to meet the new small overlap crash test.

Five popular small crossover-utility vehicles failed the new overlap crash test designed to simulate an impact with a pole or other narrow object — one of the more common sources of highway fatalities.

Only the 2014 Subaru Forester passed the test, earning a “good” rating from the trade group the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The 2013 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport landed an “acceptable” rating.

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Among the vehicles to fail the test, earning a “poor rating,” were the recently updated Ford Escape, the Jeep Patriot, the Buick Encore, the Kia Sportage and the Hyundai Tucson. The Jeep Wrangler, Nissan Rogue, Mazda CX-5, Volkswagen Tiguan and Honda CR-V were among those compact crossovers to earn a “marginal” rating.


Mitsubishi Lands New Outlander

Maker insists it’s committed to U.S. market.

by on Nov.30, 2012

Mitsubishi delivers a completely redesigned 3-row Outlander CUV.

You know a manufacturer is having trouble when it begins a news conference not with the unveiling of a new product but with a promise that it isn’t about to leave the market. But few were surprised by the approach taken when Mitsubishi’s U.S. chief executive opened things up at the LA Auto Show this week.

The Japanese maker has had some serious problems in recent years.  A flawed strategy aimed at bringing in young, first-time buyers backfired, running up $100s of millions in losses. And a number of recent products flopped, notably including the now-abandoned Eclipse sports coupe. In fact, Mitsubishi is all but starting over, walking away from a number of once-popular nameplates.

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Its problems were serious enough that only a major bailout kept the Japanese parent alive, in fact. Now, with Suzuki announcing plans to abandon the U.S. after years of crumbling sales, the spotlight is on Mitsubishi, many analysts predicting it could be next to give up on the market.

Not so fast, proclaimed CEO Yoichi Yokazawa, telling a crowd of journalists, “Mitsubishi is as committed to North America as ever,” before unveiling several products intended to help it regain some positive momentum.


Mitsubishi Previews Plug-In Outlander

Battery-SUV slated for Paris debut.

by on Sep.06, 2012

Mitsubishi's new Outlander PHEV will use separate front and rear motors for its all-wheel-drive system.

Mitsubishi is doubling down its bet on battery power.

The struggling Japanese maker has been hoping to gain some traction with a push towards alternative propulsion that began with last year’s launch of the little i-MiEV electric vehicle.  The next entrant into the battery line-up is a lithium-powered plug-in hybrid version of the Outlander.

Based on the new Outlander that was introduced earlier this summer, it will be the world’s first plug-in hybrid SUV, Mitsubishi notes, and will make its public debut at the upcoming Paris Motor Show.

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The maker claims it offers “the best of three worlds.”  That translates into an environmentally friendly drivetrain, especially when running on battery power, the cruising range of a conventional gas-powered vehicle, and the off-road capabilities of an SUV.