Published on December 13th, 2014 | by Daniel Sherman Fernandez0
Mitsubishi Compact Car Success
Mitsubishi has been having great success in the ASEAN market with their compact Mirage hatchback and Attrage sedan. This has prompted Mitsubishi management in Japan to look at taking both these cars to North America.
“One of the important efforts inside the company has been turning North America from red ink to black,” Mitsubishi CEO Osamu Masuko said recently in an interview. “Finally we can realize that.” He credited better-than-expected sales of the Outlander Sport compact crossover and Mirage hatchback, imported from Thailand, for helping dig Mitsubishi out of its North American hole.
Through October, U.S. sales have surged 30 percent to 64,564 vehicles, well ahead of the industry wide 6 percent gain. Sales of the Outlander Sport, Mitsubishi’s best-selling nameplate, were up 25 percent to 25,620 vehicles, while the No. 2-selling Mirage notched volume of 14,240, against the 495 units sold when it was trickling into the U.S. last year.
“It’s performing beyond expectations,” Masuko said of the pint-sized Mirage. “There was a hike in volume, and it helped revitalize the dealers. It is contributing to our profit.”
The success of the 3-cylinder Mirage has emboldened Mitsubishi to consider following with its Thailand-built sedan version, sold as the Attrage and Mirage G4 overseas, Masuko said. That sedan version could arrive in the second half of the next fiscal year, he said, meaning sometime between October 2015 and March 2016.
“It’s not the case that we can’t introduce small cars to the U.S. market. If the fuel economy is good, it will be accepted,” Masuko said. The Mirage hatchback gets an EPA-rated combined 40 mpg. “There is the possibility for small vehicles,” he said. “That is why we are considering an introduction of the small sedan.”
Mitsubishi will also bring the Outlander PHEV in that time frame. The launch of that crossover, already on sale in Europe and Japan, was delayed by a battery production bottleneck.
Battery capacity should increase to 60,000 units next year, up from 50,000 this year and 30,000 last, Masuko said. But battery supply could get tight again in the fiscal year ending March 31, 2017, when Mitsubishi introduces a plug-in hybrid version of the next-generation Outlander Sport, he said. Mitsubishi plans to bring a plug-in and petrol version of that vehicle to the U.S. A diesel drivetrain is also planned, but it is unclear what markets will get it.