TOKYO — Mitsubishi Motors Corp. may be preparing to scale back its efforts in the U.S.
CEO Takao Kato says the Japanese carmaker’s new strategy will focus less on huge global markets where the brand is merely an also-ran.
Addressing investors during Mitsubishi’s annual shareholders meeting last week, Kato said the automaker will dial down business in megamarkets such as Europe and China. He didn’t mention North America or the U.S. by name. But the company later confirmed that it indeed considers the U.S. a megamarket.
The company’s new plan is called Selection and Concentration. Under Mitsubishi’s previous business plan, Drive for Growth, the carmaker had specifically flagged North America and China as two regions of focus.
“Even though we increased sales volume in the megamarkets, we have not yet achieved the level of profit we expected,” Kato said. “We aim to increase sales in the regions where we can offer our core products. We will gradually reduce our commitment to megamarkets.”
Mitsubishi already had announced its plan to double down in regions where the company has momentum, such as Southeast Asia and Oceania. It will also divert more R&D resources into the kinds of vehicles that are popular there, such as pickups, SUVs and people-mover vans.
Mitsubishi hasn’t spelled out exactly what this strategy shift means for developed markets. But they clearly won’t be a top priority now.
Under a new plan to avoid regional overlap among the Renault-Nissan- Mitsubishi alliance partners, Nissan will take the lead in the U.S. and China, while Renault will spearhead business in Europe. Mitsubishi will be responsible for Southeast Asia and Oceania.
In the fiscal year ended March 31, Mitsubishi’s volume in North America fell 8 percent to 160,000 vehicles, while its Europe volume declined 9 percent to