LOS ANGELES -- Mitsubishi, in an urgent need to revive sales and its brand image in this country, is putting its redesigned 2006 Eclipse coupe on sale 10 days earlier than planned.
The four-seat coupe went on sale Thursday at a base price of $19,994 including the shipping charge. The 2005 model was priced at $20,274 including shipping.
The ad campaign begins this weekend.
The company originally planned to put some of the vehicles into dealerships for display and promotional purposes on Memorial Day. The official sales date and ad launch was set for June 12.
But Mitsubishi is counting on the Eclipse to bring some spark back to the brand. Sales plunged 40.2 percent in the first four months of the year compared with 2004. Each nameplate was down by double digits, including the Eclipse coupe, down 22.0 percent.
"Feedback and reactions from dealers and consumers has been overwhelmingly positive," said Dave Schembri, executive vice president of sales and marketing for Mitsubishi Motors North America Inc. "Since our product ramp up had been virtually flawless, we saw no reason to hold back on deliveries of this fabulous new car to showrooms."
The redesigned Eclipse comes in two models, the GS and the GT. The GS comes with a 2.4-liter, 162-hp four-cylinder engine with either a five-speed manual or a four-speed automatic transmission. The four-cylinder engine in the current Eclipse makes 147 hp.
The GT has a 3.8-liter, 263-hp V-6 with either a six-speed manual or a five-speed automatic transmission. The current 3.0-liter V-6 makes 200 hp in the GT and 210 hp in the GTS.
The Rockford Fosgate audio system uses 650 watts and has nine speakers.
The primary target customers are singles and married couples aged 25 to 35. The secondary customers are baby boomers with older children and empty nesters looking for a personal car.
The car is built at the Mitsubishi plant in Normal, Ill. It has capacity for 42,000 coupes annually.
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