Rich Gilligan: Help is on the way.
And several top engineers have left jobs at the company's r&d campus in Ann Arbor, Mich.
The departures indicate some managers see a shaky future at the financially strapped company. But CEO Rich Gilligan said capable executives will replace the departing managers. Fresh products will boost the company, he said.
Gilligan confirmed last week at the New York auto show that Bob Martin, director of brand marketing, has submitted his resignation.
Martin, formerly the product planning chief with Hyundai Motor America, joined Mitsubishi last November. Martin's current job status is not known.
Steve Kosowski, a product planning specialist, left Mitsubishi to join Nissan North America Inc. early in March.
Kosowski, who colleagues say had been with Mitsubishi for more than 10 years, was a significant part of a five-man product-development staff at company headquarters.
A Nissan spokesman confirmed that Kosowski joined the company to work in a middle-management job in truck marketing.
Gilligan said he was not aware of the situation in Ann Arbor. But key engineers are leaving.
Dennis Gore, the vehicle development director at Mitsubishi Motors R&D of America Inc. and the No. 2 executive at the operation, left in February. He joined Visionary Vehicles LLC as executive vice president of r&d. Visionary was started by entrepreneur Malcolm Bricklin to sell Chinese vehicles in North America.
Gore then recruited Lydell Powell, who was manager of vehicle evaluation at Mitsubishi R&D, to join Visionary Vehicles. Powell's last day was March 15.
The r&d staff works closely with Mitsubishi's product planners in the United States and Japan to create vehicles for U.S. tastes.
A source says about 60 engineers worked in Ann Arbor in January, about half of them Americans and half Japanese. He says about seven Americans left in January, another five to seven left in February, and four to five more have stated their intentions to leave.
Mitsubishi's U.S. sales fell 37.1 percent in 2004 compared with 2003, to 161,609. In the first two months of this year they dropped 45.8 percent to 19,746.
But Gilligan said new products are on the way. For the 2006 model year, he said, Mitsubishi will get a redesigned Eclipse sports car, the new Raider pickup, a high-performance Lancer Evolution sports car and a freshened Endeavor SUV.
For the 2007 model year, the Outlander SUV will be redesigned, and the Galant sedan will get a facelift and a Ralliart model.
You may e-mail Kathy Jackson at [email protected]