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Little Mitsubishi Has Big Plans for the U.S.

by | May 20, 2024

Mitsubishi…remember it? Going back a couple decades, it was a rising star in the U.S. market. Now, it hopes to make a real comeback with its 5-year Momentum 2030 North America business plan. That will “start immediately,” the Japanese automaker says, with an assortment of new and completely refreshed vehicles heading to American showrooms — including EVs, plug-ins and conventional hybrids.

Mitsubishi Momemtum LogoFew automakers have had more things go wrong than Mitsubishi which today survives largely due to a bailout by one-time rival Nissan. But things have been moving in the right direction, with U.S. sales rising nearly 2% last year and a much more healthy 35.7% during the first quarter of 2024.

In light of that accelerated growth it might seem appropriate that the automaker’s new five-year business plan for North America is dubbed Mitsubishi Motors Momentum 2030. It will bring what the Japanese automaker is describing as an assortment of “new or completely refreshed vehicle(s) to debut each year from fiscal 2026 to fiscal 2030.” The automaker also promises a “modernized” retail sales model and an expansion of its current dealer network.

“Mitsubishi Motors is at a pivotal point in North America, charting a bold, clear and attainable plan for our future success in the United States,” Mark Chaffin, MMNA president and CEO said. “Momentum 2030 will build on that, setting the stage for new powertrains and vehicles being introduced, new dealerships being opened, and new technologies being developed to make the shopping and ownership experience faster, easier and more enjoyable.”

Starting over

2021 Mitsubishi Mirage front 3:4

The Mitsubishi Mirage is one of the brand’s products soon to go away.

The image provided by Mitsubishi Motors North America may not provide a lot of clarity about what’s in store but it immediately makes it clear that MMNA plans to grow the meager line-up it offers today: the Outlander, Outlander Sport, Mirage and Eclipse Cross.

If anything, it had, until now, looked like the carmaker’s offerings could become even smaller. The subcompact Mirage was set to go out of production later this year, and the Outlander Sport also was set to be dropped – though a new version will be launched in Europe.

But the brand will start refreshing the American line-up by late next year – Mitsubishi’s 2026 fiscal year starting in October. Though the company offered few specifics, inside sources are giving some intriguing hints. Among other things, look for new products in new segments, such as a U.S. version of the quirky Delica van and a new variant of the rugged Outlander.

What’s coming?

Mitsubishi D:X Concept

The quirky Mitsubishi D:X Concept could be transformed into a new Delica van.

According to Chaffin, we’ll see at least two new entries target “segments in which the company does not currently compete.”

The Delica could prove to be one of the more intriguing products. It’s a rather odd-looking van, something you’d be more likely imagine showing up in a futuristic sci-fi adventure. Expected to be based on the D:X Concept first shown at last’s Japan Mobility Show, the six-seater clearly is not aimed at the typical soccer mom — not unless their kids’ field is located somewhere off-road.

While the Outlander Sport is slated to go away, it appears likely that a new variant of the bigger Outlander model will be in the expanded Mitsubishi line-up. According to several reports, it could be directly targeted at the likes of the popular Subaru Outback.

And while it’s a little less certain, we could see one of the Mitsubishi pickups sold in other markets come to the U.S.

More Mitsubishi News

Plugging in

2024 Mitsubishi Outland PHEV snow spray

Mitsubishi has experiencedsales growth in the U.S. thanks to models like the revamped Outlander PHEV.

While it hasn’t gained mainstream attention, Mitsubishi has done reasonably well with the plug-in hybrid version of its Outlander model. As part of the Momentum 2030 plan, it noted in a statement, “Electrification will advance with a blend of powertrains – hybrid, plug-in hybrid, (and) battery electric.”

Automotive News is reporting that this could include an all-electric version of one of the Mitsubishi pickups.

What’s clear is that the automaker will have to start catching up with its various electrified products – if for no other reason than to catch up with the demanding new emissions standards set in place by the Biden administration earlier this year. While the revised rules give manufacturers a bit more breathing room through the end of this decade, two-thirds of their sales will have to come from all-electric models by 2032. The exception is that some of those products could be long-range PHEVs.

The new Delica could be one of the new plug-ins Mitsubishi will bring to the U.S.

Don’t expect Mitsubishi to give up on gas models entirely, however. In its statement it hinted that its expanded line-up also will make use of “ advanced-technology internal combustion engines.”

With a little help

Mitsubishi has struggled for nearly two decades to rebuild its global presence after a series of bad business moves and scandals. An effort to target young, financially struggling American buyers wound up costing it hundreds of millions of dollars. It subsequently was caught cheating on fuel economy testing.

It squeaked through a near-death experience, Nissan buying a controlling stake in 20216 for $2.2 billion. It has subsequently become a part of the global Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance. And much of the new product offensive will rely on platforms and powertrains developed by its bigger partners.

And while it no longer operates any manufacturing sites in the U.S., look for at least some of Mitsubishi’s new products to be assembled in the States by Nissan. To take advantage of the $7,500 in federal tax credits available for EVs meeting sourcing requirements, those would be the models most likely to be assembled at the Nissan plant in Smyrna, Tennessee.


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