Mitsubishi Motors Corp. has only minor roles planned for the 2001 Eclipse Spyder and Montero sport-utility in turning around the company's U.S. sales.
Both vehicles, which were unveiled at the Detroit auto show last week, along with a concept called the SSS, are expected to account for only 12,000 to 15,000 annual sales apiece after they reach dealers later this year.
'They are not our core products,' said Pierre Gagnon, COO of Mitsubishi Motor Sales of America Inc. 'For 2000, our rallying cry is `We're just getting started.' '
The company sold 261,254 cars and trucks last year, up 37.1 percent over 1998.
The 8-year-old Montero has almost no place to go but up. Against growing competition from luxury trucks and car-based sport-utilities, the company's U.S. dealers sold just 5,115 copies last year.
To increase the Montero's appeal when it reaches dealers in March, Mitsubishi is cutting the price from above $40,000 for a fully equipped model to about $36,000. The change brings the Montero closer to the $35,000 'sweet spot' in the luxury sport-utility market, Gagnon said.
The 2001 Eclipse Spyder hits dealers at the end of this month and will go up against competitors such as the Chrysler Sebring convertible and the forthcoming Toyota Celica convertible.
Two engines, a 2.4-liter, four-cylinder engine with 147 hp and a 3.0-liter V-6 with 200 hp, will be offered. Prices range from $23,400 to $28,900, Gagnon said.
Also unveiled was the SSS concept, styled in Mitsubishi's Cypress, Calif., design studio. The Diamante-based concept is the third in a series of concepts based on Mitsubishi's luxury car. The SSS has four minivanlike sliding doors and a rear cabin roomy enough to hold two upright mountain bikes.