On the heels of Suzuki’s sudden departure from the U.S. market, questions immediately arose as to the viability of another smaller, troubled Japanese automaker in the U.S.: Mitsubishi. Mitsubishi’s president, Osamu Masuko, moved quickly to squelch any rumors that it might follow Suzuki’s exit from the American market, saying, “we have no intention whatsoever of withdrawing from the U.S. market.” Masuko added that the U.S. was a key market for the automaker.
The success of Japanese titans such as Toyota, Honda, and Nissan, and those automakers’ corresponding luxury units signaled an appetite for Japanese cars in America. But those companies were able to develop extensive dealer networks, large lineups that could compete in important segments, and were successful at creating brand recognition.
While Mitsubishi has outperformed Suzuki, it has never been able to achieve the success of its Japanese counterparts. Despite success in emerging markets, Mitsubishi has seen its U.S. sales decline, while other automakers have made large gains. The automaker is apparently not discouraged, and is planning to ramp up production at its only U.S. plant, in Normal, Illinois. Additionally Mitsubishi named a new head of its American operations, just last week. Gayu Uesugi, executive vice president and chairman of Mitsubishi Motors North America, will be tasked with creating a profitable growth strategy. Uesugi has previously done just that in emerging markets such as Russia, Thailand, and China. It remains to be seen if the automaker can have similar success in the ultra-competitive U.S. market.
Source: Automotive News (subscription required)