Mitsubishi dealers may get a minivan and a bigger pickup than the one that is planned for the 2006 model year off the mid-sized Dodge Dakota platform.
"That's just on the drawing board, but that is some of the future product we're looking at," said Chuck Barber, the Mitsubishi dealer council chairman, after the make meeting.
Barber, president of Barber Bros. Mitsubishi in Orem, Utah, said the company plans to get fleet sales down to about 15 percent of total sales, from about 20 percent now and 40 percent just a few months ago. The company sold 256,810 vehicles in the United States last year.
Finbarr O'Neill, CEO of Mitsubishi North America Inc., would not comment on future product, but he did assure dealers that Mitsubishi is changing its image from an incentive-driven company to one that is ready to tout its advantages.
The company surprised dealers with a 30-second spot that was shown during the second quarter of the Super Bowl. It was a last-minute buy that cost the company more than $1 million, one of the most expensive single media buys in recent history at Mitsubishi.
The spot, with some humor, showed the Mitsubishi Galant GTS V-6 competing against the Toyota Camry XLE V-6 in an accident-avoidance test, in which the Galant wins.
A Web site, seewhathappens.com, shows other tests pitting the Galant against the Camry and the Honda Accord EX V-6.
"This showed them the direction the company is taking," O'Neill said. "We're going to focus more on the product. Our main focus is how do we bring more people to the brand."
Other concerns, O'Neill said, are dealer profitability and the lack of service business at Mitsubishi dealerships.
He said dealer profitability is down.
The Super Bowl spot will continue to air on TV. Mitsubishi also plans to use the same media tactic with some of its other products.
"Mitsubishi has never done this," said Jim Lemay, owner of Performance Mitsubishi in Cincinnati. "Before, Mitsubishi always talked about the deal. This is the first time they've taken Toyota head-on. This is good because the customer has to have justification for buying our cars. They have to defend it to their family and friends."