Could a Pickup Spark the Comeback of Mitsubishi?

America must have a soft spot in its collective heart for Mitsubishi.

Theoretically, the company should have gone the way of Suzuki years ago, yet it still hangs on in the U.S. market and has proven itself as a scrappy little brand that is liked by just enough people to keep it running. As you may remember, Nissan purchased a 34 percent stake in Mitsubishi last year, and a U.S. rebirth for the brand would fit with CEO Carlos Ghosn’s goal to turn that alliance into one of the top three automakers in the world.

Could the addition of a few more vehicles bring the small Japanese automaker back to glory?

MotorTrend said,

Mitsubishi has a pretty thin vehicle lineup in the U.S., but it will barrage the market with new Eclipse Cross and Outlander PHEV crossovers to boost sales 30 percent by 2020. While it remains focused on crossovers for the U.S., the automaker could leverage its membership in the Renault-Nissan Alliance to introduce other new vehicles, including a sedan and maybe even a pickup.

If a new Mitsubishi sedan or pickup does come to the United States, it will likely be based on a Nissan, but won’t be a simple badge job. Mitsubishi CEO Osamu Masuko told Automotive News,

The design will be completely different. We would like to clearly differentiate our models and show the special characteristics of each company.

Can a sedan move the needle for Mitsubishi? Sedans are a slowly dying breed, and even the established players are seeing declines in sales.

A pickup, however, could be a good idea, considering the rebirth of the compact truck market. The problem is that it would be based on the Nissan Frontier, a truck that lags near the bottom of the sales charts. Remember the Frontier-based Suzuki Equator? Exactly. The Frontier is due for a makeover for 2018, though, which should make it relevant again.

Mitsubishi’s success will most likely rest on the shoulders of its new and existing crossovers, which should be just good enough to keep the brand here a while longer.

Would you be interested in a Frontier-based pickup from Mitsubishi?

-tgriffith

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