Mitsubishi will leave the European and UK markets but isn’t forsaking the U.S. yet
Mitsubishi is telling dealers in Europe and the UK that the company will exit those regions, according to Automotive Management Online. The withdrawal is part of the Japanese firm’s effort to leave so-called “megamarkets,” where Mitsubishi has struggled to survive, and distill its global footprint to less competitive areas with greater potential for profit. Despite this move, however, it appears that Mitsubishi hasn’t entirely forsaken the U.S. market; in fact, it seems determined to maintain a stateside presence.
Mitsubishi has committed to supporting its vehicles across the pond with repairs and service while allowing its current offerings to remain on sale until they’re no longer compliant with regulations. The strategy falls under the guise of Mitsubishi’s “Selection and Concentration,” a phrase used periodically by the brand to reevaluate where its strongest markets are, which products those markets require, and how the company can best tailor its portfolio to them. “We aim to increase sales in the regions where we can offer our core products,” said Mitsubishi CEO Takao Kato during a recent stockholder meeting. “We will gradually reduce our commitment to megamarkets.”
A major factor in Mitsubishi’s scaling back comes from product overlap with its partners Nissan and Renault; as part of the new plan, Nissan will take North America and China as Renault fills in the gap inside Europe and the UK and Mitsubishi focuses on Asia-Pacific markets.
Despite concerns of Mitsubishi leaving North America entirely, the company announced a refresh of its line-up just last week, with the next-generation Outlander leading the charge in 2021 along with a powertrain update for the PHEV Outlander at the end of this year to increase performance and range. The Eclipse crossover and the Mirage (which has seen steadily increasing sales since its introduction) will also see refreshes in 2021, hopefully to round out Mitsubishi’s continued recovery from its collapse in the mid-2000s (not to mention the COVID-19 pandemic). Today, the brand announced the opening of a new dealership franchise with the Little Rock, Arkansas-based Steve Landers Cowboy Mitsubishi, noting that it is still seeking new slices of the megamarket pie here in the United States. The announcement itself stands out, since most OEMs hardly consider a new dealer partnership to be headline news; in Mitsubishi’s instance, the move does in fact bolster its commitment here in the States.
“Now, more than ever, Mitsubishi Motors is committed to growing our dealer footprint as we prepare for all-new and significantly refreshed Mitsubishi vehicles to begin entering showrooms within the next 12 months,” says Steve Smidlein, director of the U.S.’s central region for Mitsubishi Motors of North America.
With Mitsubishi’s yearly sales finally climbing to pre-2008 economic collapse numbers, we’re hopeful that the brand will be around for years to come even if their leadership is dissatisfied with the rate of growth. Exactly what that looks like a decade or more down the road has yet to be seen as the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance evolves.