Mitsubishi doesn’t sell a lot of cars in the United States.
The Japanese automaker has teetered for years on the brink of pulling out of the market, but has managed to sustain itself within a tiny niche of affordable entry-level vehicles. There was a time when the company offered a full stable of vehicles, including the Endeavor SUV, Eclipse coupe, Galant sedan, and, of course, the cult-favorite Evolution.
Mitsubishi has certainly flown under the radar in recent years, which could be why a new scandal involving deceptive fuel-economy claims has gone largely unnoticed in the U.S.
Regarding Mitsubishi, the New York Times said,
Last month, it acknowledged cheating for the last 25 years on gas-mileage tests for cars in Japan, embarrassing top executives and tarnishing a name that has been dented by scandal before. Since then, its stock price has plunged, and it has had to halt production of the tiny models at the center of the scandal.
Not only has a quarter century of cheating in Japan not hurt Mitsubishi sales in the U.S., the company seems to be on the verge of thriving here. I use the term lightly, of course, but U.S. Mitsubishi sales are up almost 9 percent over last year to nearly 35,000 cars so far this year. That’s not too bad. In fact, it’s more than Lincoln, Porsche, Fiat, Jaguar, Land Rover, and Volvo have managed to sell through April.
The NYT article says that Mitsubishi is finding success because it’s addressing a market other automakers largely ignore: people looking for an entry-level car on a tight budget. A buyer can spend about $15,000 on a used car, or get into a new Mitsubishi for about the same price.
Mitsubishi’s quality and reliability rankings continue to be below average, but the value proposition and real-world fuel economy have combined to secure the company’s place at the bottom of the U.S. market, regardless of scandals in other parts of the world.
Would you rather buy a used car or a new Mitsubishi?