Mitsubishi Motors in Canada: attentive and nimble
The automotive industry was ticking along quite nicely. Then came electrification.
At the 2020 Montreal and Toronto Auto Shows, most of the brand presentations contained a lot of the same terms. Zero emissions, BEVs, plug-in hybrids, battery technology, recharging infrastructure, and range anxiety came up repetitively. While a bevy of new electrified models dominated the shows, they stood beside a larger, proven fleet of fossil fuel power. The phrase that prefaced every CEO and PR guru’s speech was, “While I don’t have a crystal ball…”
Canada’s car companies and their parents are racing in new, often different directions. Is it EVs, hybrids, plug-in or not, hydrogen, or… maybe something else? While no one is slowing down, neither does anyone seem absolutely certain of what the fickle driving public wants or needs. That’s critical in Canada, a country with long driving distances, dramatic weather, varied government regulations, and a dizzying breadth of consumer preferences.
The Right Product at the Right Time
According to Juyu Jeon (JJ; top photo), President and CEO, Mitsubishi Motor Sales of Canada, Inc. (MMSCAN), all of this adds up to a strong stance for his brand, which has had a striking hit with the Outlander PHEV, the country’s best-selling plug-in hybrid SUV. It’s a remarkable achievement for one of the smaller automakers in the industry. Because the company is smaller and more able to steer its business as clarity emerges from today’s complex picture, things are looking pretty good for the Mitsubishi brand.
One thing is clear: Canadians want SUVs. MMSCAN has five vehicles in the market of which four, the Outlander, Outlander PHEV, top-selling RVR, and Eclipse Cross are in that category. Each of these models will be renewed or receive a major makeover in the next 12-18 months, including the much-anticipated all-new Outlander. At the same time, the company is introducing the improved 2021 Mirage, a subcompact car to meet the primary or secondary car needs of value-minded drivers while demonstrating Mitsubishi’s value proposition of reliability, strong warranty, and service.
A Growing Brand in Canada
JJ sees real strength. He preaches sustainable growth for the brand in Canada, noting that Mitsubishi has “enjoyed record-breaking year-over-year sales three years in a row.” There will be the model transformation and a renewed dealer program that is already underway. Of Mitsubishi’s 95-store dealer network, over 60 percent have undergone a new image program; nine have been completed, seven more are started, and the rest will follow. JJ points out that the Outlander PHEV achieved its crown not only by offering the right product but also by having a supply and service chain helping customers drive off the lot with a plug-in vehicle the day they purchase it at any Mitsubishi dealership.
“We will watch the market and respond in a nimble manner,” JJ confidently says, emphasizing that Mitsubishi has the right product for today and will have the right products for tomorrow backed by an increasingly strong network of partners who can make it happen.
Text: John Morris