This month, O'Neill said at least 14 of the automaker's 630 U.S. dealers quit the company this year. But some dealers say Mitsubishi needs to shed even more dealerships.
Mitsubishi dealers sold an average of 401 vehicles per store in 2003 vs. 563 in 2002. In June, the dealers sold an average of 19 vehicles, a rate of 228 per year discounting seasonal differences.
Michael Tocci, senior vice president of sales, says the company has no plans to change its dualing policy.
He said there are no plans to reduce or downsize the dealer network except through natural attrition.
"We allow dealers to propose temporary variations to their dealerships, which may include shared parts and service areas and, in extreme limited situations, a dualed showroom," Tocci said. But "if a variation is granted, it is for a limited time only."
It isn't all bad news. Jim Boyle, vice president of Metro Mitsubishi in Philadelphia, says the company's new warranty and free maintenance programs have helped increase his sales from 15 a month to 22 monthly.
Dealers have a 10-year/100,000-mile limited powertrain warranty, a five-year bumper-to-bumper warranty and a three-year/45,000-mile free-maintenance policy.
"I'm doing a lot better with that warranty," Boyle says. "Now they need to work on things for the future like new product."
And Boyle, who says he witnessed Tocci and O'Neill face a hostile dealer group in the Northeast recently, believes the duo will handle the storm in New Orleans.
"There were a lot of complaints and raised voices," Boyle says. "But these guys took it like men and responded in a positive way."