ORLANDO, Fla. -- Mitsubishi dealers are eagerly awaiting March 20. That's when the parent company says it will announce a business plan for the new fiscal year.
Although Mitsubishi's sales rose 4 percent in January compared with January 2005, dealers are nervous. They have received new products - and more are on the way - but they lack sufficient marketing and advertising dollars to showcase the new vehicles.
That shortfall was the top issue at the make meeting.
"A lot of Mitsubishi dealers are in trouble," said Chuck Barber, chairman of the dealer council.
"We've got good product, but nobody knows about it. Showroom traffic is slow. We don't have a lot of advertising dollars. And the tough part about it is, everybody else is spending tons of money."
Many dealers got their first chance to meet Hiroshi Harunari, who was named co-CEO of Mitsubishi Motors North America late last year. They said Harunari assured them that the company is committed to the United States and that he will detail new plans for this country around March 20.
Meantime, the factory told dealers it has tweaked its co-op advertising program and is putting hefty incentives on the slow-selling Raider pickup. Both programs began this month.
Under the new co-op program, dealers can receive up to $25,000 in monthly co-op funds from the factory after they spend an initial $10,000. Under the old program, the maximum payout by the company was $5,000, after dealers spent the first $10,000.
"Everybody wants more dollars for marketing," said Michael Seidel, a Mitsubishi dealer in Miami. "They say they're going to do everything they can. That's why they sent the new co-CEO over. They say the No. 1 priority is a profitable dealer body."
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