The sporty Eclipse coupe is leading a modest comeback for Mitsubishi. And this year dealers will get the redesigned Eclipse Spyder convertible in March and the redesigned Outlander crossover in the fall.
Dave Schembri, executive vice president of sales and marketing for Mitsubishi Motors North America, tells Staff Reporter Kathy Jackson that Mitsubishi is finally finding itself in this country.
The new Eclipse gave Mitsubishi a lift last year. Can you follow that up this year?
The Outlander will be our coming-out party this year. It could be our sales leader because of that segment. It will be a strong competitor. It's so important for a brand to have an identity.
The new Raider pickup has performed poorly. What are you going to do to push those sales?
You have to exercise patience. We're encouraged. We're not seeing through-the-roof numbers, but we're going in the right direction.
GM didn't make it any easier with the Silverado at $16,900. It will be an interesting year for trucks.
You don't have a big ad budget. How do you expect to stand out in the crowd?
We can't compete with the big media budgets. We don't have a lot of national TV right now. We've produced an ad for the Spyder with alternative media in mind. The Spyder will be marketed heavily on the Internet and experiential marketing.
What will you do on the Internet?
Virtual test drives are one example, like we did with the Eclipse. That was highly successful for us.
We want to be customer-friendly, not intrusive.
Is Internet marketing effective?
We need traffic in our showrooms. Traffic has been redefined.
The virtual is just as important as the physical. We spend about 10 percent of our budget on Internet and experiential. That will probably double, and it will come from traditional media.