By March, Mitsubishi expects to have sold just 55,000 cars in the US this fiscal year. That's a tiny sum – by comparison, Honda has sold over 276,000 Civic models thus far this year – and that's just one vehicle, not an entire brand. Mitsubishi president Osamu Masuko recognizes this is not a tenable position, and he's hoping the company will shift 80,000 units next fiscal year. Warding off speculation, Masuko has repeatedly stated that his company will not retreat from the US market like competitor Suzuki.
We reported on one part of Masuko's plan, the updated Outlander, and now he has confirmed that the small Mirage will be sold in the US beginning next September. The cut-price hatchback is selling well enough that Mitsu's Thailand plant is at its full capacity of 150,000 cars. "And even at that level it's not keeping up with orders," Masuko tells Automotive News. Masuko went on to say the plant would be expanded next year to handle an extra 50,000 units. We can also expect the Outlander plug-in early 2014.
The company's Normal, Illinois, plant will also get an expansion to increase output of the Outlander Sport crossover. That facility will go from 50,000 a year to 70,000. Much of the additional production will be exported from the US to Russia, Latin America and the Middle East.
In other news, Masuko admits the company's bubble-shaped i electric subcompact is selling far more poorly than expected. At one time, the company had optimistically planned on 20,000 sales a year of it little EV, but thus far, Mitsu has only shifted 469 units through October. Because of that, don't expect to see the electric Mirage any time soon. In fact, Automotive News reports that the company plans to move away from pure electric vehicles and focus on hybrids and plug-in hybrids for the US market.
Posted Nov 12th 2012 2:31PM