Mitsubishi's Okazaki: He wants feedback from U.S. dealers.
With sales plummeting, Mitsubishi executives in Japan suspect the network is too big.
Yoichiro Okazaki is making his first visit as the boss to Mitsubishi's U.S. sales headquarters in Cyprus, Calif.
Okazaki says he will try to determine Mitsubishi's natural volume level and required U.S. dealership body size. Kazuyuki Kikuchi, the head of American operations who works in Japan, will accompany Okazaki.
"Mr. Kikuchi and I are going to visit Cyprus to formulate a new action plan," Okazaki told Automotive News. He said Mitsubishi's U.S. operations are "in rehabilitation."
In meetings with Mitsubishi executives and dealers, Okazaki said he will hammer out details for Mitsubishi's future in the United States. The goal is to go beyond the broad outlines issued under the troubled carmaker's broad global Revitalization Plan.
Kikuchi has been in the United States for several weeks laying the groundwork for the plan.
Okazaki, who took over as CEO in May, will be in California for two or three days. He said he also hopes to rectify complaints by some U.S. employees that they have been left in the dark about the carmaker's plans.
"We have to focus more on communication" with U.S. employees, he said.
Mitsubishi has 630 U.S. dealerships. After getting "as much feedback as possible" in meetings with dealers, Okazaki said he hopes to determine what sales volume Mitsubishi can expect in the United States. Based on that, he plans to decide within several weeks how many dealers Mitsubishi needs in the United States.
In June, Mitsubishi outlets in America sold an average of 19 vehicles. That compares with 116 at Toyota dealerships, 100 at Honda stores and 63 at Nissan dealerships.
Mitsubishi's U.S. sales fell 26.7 percent to 101,802 in the first six months of this year compared with the year-ago period. The company said the drop was made worse by a sharp cut in fleet sales.
Okazaki said he hopes the company's new "Best Backed Car in the World" warranty campaign will boost sales. He said the results of that program, which includes a 5-year/60,000-mile bumper-to-bumper limited warranty, are unclear.
"Dealers say our customer profile has been changing," he said. "I'm sure that our customers are coming back to our main models," including the Galant and Endeavor, he said.
The company has vowed not to return to the days when it offered generous incentives.
Okazaki won't be spending much time on product planning while in California. "I think our lineup is full," he said. "It's much better than it was before, with Galant, Eclipse, Endeavor and Lancer. It was rare for us to have such a full lineup."
He added: "If we wanted to add something new, the timing may be delayed. If we did, it would be as the next step."