Mitsubishi Motor Sales of America Inc. has backed off its previous goal of having 600 dealers by 2000, but it is holding fast to its commitment to having a diverse dealer body.
Odis Reid, who joined Mitsubishi in February as vice president of franchise development, said the company is re-evaluating how many dealers it will need as the new century begins.
But he added that minorities and women will make up 15 percent of Mitsubishi's dealer body by 2002.
'Whatever the size, it will be profitable and strong,' he said. 'We are not going to segregate anyone out of the process. We want the best and the brightest.'
Currently, Mitsubishi's dealer network of 511 has no African-American dealers, 12 Hispanics, 10 Asians, five Native Americans and 46 women. Mitsubishi appointed a white female dealer in March and a Hispanic male in April.
Mitsubishi announced the appointment of Reid when it disclosed its plan to increase the number of dealerships owned by minorities and women and to make peace with civil rights leader Jesse Jackson.
However, Mitsubishi spokes-man Kim Custer said the company had begun courting Reid long before it struck a deal with Jackson.
While finding quality points for qualified minority and women candidates is important, Reid said minority dealer development is only a portion of his duties. He is also in charge of the business management and long-term strategic planning of the company's entire dealer network.
Reid said Mitsubishi is encouraging dealers to be more customer friendly and to upgrade their dealerships for a more consistent look.
For example, dealers are asked to designate customer parking areas clearly and to identify their used-car operations clearly with banners.
Reid said: 'We want to make buying a car a pleasant experience.'