The cash is part of Daniel Kuhnert's plan to encourage dealerships to order more vehicles.
"If we can have a better closing ratio, this can have a big impact on sales irrespective of what we spend on advertising and incentives," he says.
Kuhnert wants to sell 143,000 new vehicles this year and 250,000 annually within three years.
It's a tall order: Mitsubishi sales totaled 55,132 through the first five months of the year, down 38.4 percent from the year-ago period.
In addition to cash for salespeople, he plans these steps to encourage sales:
Kuhnert says new-vehicle sales lag parts and service and used-vehicle sales as the top revenue generators for the average Mitsubishi dealership. The average U.S. dealership generates 61 percent of its revenues from new-vehicle sales, according to data from the National Automobile Dealers Association.
"We would like to see the majority coming from new cars," says Kuhnert. "That is a big challenge for us."
Kuhnert, 50, joined Mitsubishi in April but is no stranger to the company. He was general manager of Mitsubishi's western region from 1988 to 1992. From 1992 to 2001, he was the dealer principal of Carlsbad (Calif.) Mitsubishi, north of San Diego.
He believes the company can meet the ambitious sales goal this year. He expects the redesigned Mitsubishi Eclipse, which went on sale in late May, to bring in 20,000 sales and the new Raider pickup, which goes on sale in October, to generate 6,000 sales.
Bill Kent, owner of Bill Kent Mitsubishi in Milledgeville, Ga., is encouraged. "Our main problem was not having a (pickup) truck. The dealers are feeling a lot better about the product."
Kuhnert says two-thirds of Mitsubishi dealerships are profitable. He says the average Mitsubishi dealership's net profit as a percent of sales is below the 1.7 percent national average, but he would not give a figure.
You may e-mail Kathy Jackson at [email protected]