Mitsubishi’s Fred Diaz Talks Future After Ghosn Departure
Mitsubishi is in the middle of a comeback. With the help of new crossovers, the automaker has seen its North American sales increase more than 14 percent during the first 11 months of the year. Plus, it’s enjoying synergies from joining the Renault-Nissan alliance in 2016. It’s a time of optimism for the automaker that not too long ago was met with skepticism when it vowed to stay in the U.S. amid slow sales and a dearth of new products.
Moving forward after Ghosn
Diaz said things are moving ahead with a “business as usual” attitude. Having worked at Nissan before joining Mitsubishi, he says he has seen the strength of the Alliance.
“I have full faith and one hundred percent confidence that, within the talent pool we have, we’re going to be just fine,” adding, “We’re very happy with the synergies that we’re getting, the cost savings that we’re getting because of that partnership.”
Mitsubishi was celebrating the North American debut of the e-Evolution concept in Los Angeles. The vehicle made its first appearance at the Tokyo Motor Show in 2017.
The sinewy crossover previews Mitsubishi’s future design direction. The crossover looks pretty eccentric, with a triangular face and sharply sloped roof. Under the sheetmetal, it’s all electric. One motor drives the front wheels and two motors in the rear are coupled by a torque vectoring Active Yaw Control system for improved handling.
The last time we spoke with the folks at Mitsubishi, we learned a midsize pickup was being studied for the U.S. market. Mitsubishi continues to look into that possibility, but there’s nothing to announce at this point.
“[We’re] really just trying to understand the dynamics of the market, the competitors that are now coming back to the midsize truck segment and how and what we would need in order to be able to compete in that segment effectively,” Diaz said.
Mitsubishi hasn’t sold a pickup in the U.S. since the Raider. It was based on the Dodge Dakota and ended its run in 2010. In other markets, Mitsubishi sells the Thailand-built L200 pickup.
Utility vehicles are key
Mitsubishi will continue to focus on crossover utility vehicles in the U.S. It has the Outlander and Outlander Sport, the brand’s best-selling vehicles so far this year. The much-delayed Outlander PHEV and the Eclipse Cross are new arrivals that have boosted sales further.
“We’re still here”
Mitsubishi spent more on marketing this year than it has in over 11 years. It’s part of a much-needed push to increase brand awareness.
“First and foremost, that’s the first thing we need to make people aware of is that ‘Hey, we’re still here,'” Diaz said. “We’ve been kind of quiet and small for a while, but we’re back on the rebound.”