LOS ANGELES -- Mitsubishi says it has no plans to leave the United States.
Hiroshi Harunari, CEO of Mitsubishi Motors North America Inc., said the company has been selling vehicles in the United States for 25 years. "The next 25 years begins today with the full support of the Mitsubishi group companies," he said in an interview with Automotive News.
"The U.S. market is vital to all import manufacturers," he said. "Mitsubishi is no exception."
Harunari was responding to comments to Automotive News by the parent company's top product development official in Japan. Shinichi Kurihara said that if the redesigned C platform vehicles, which include the Outlander and Lancer, are not successful in the United States, Mitsubishi may pull out of the United States.
In a letter to dealers, Harunari said Kurihara's statements were "grossly misinterpreted" by Automotive News, and that Kurihara was merely expressing his enthusiasm for the C platform.
The redesigned Outlander has sold well since its launch in Japan last October. It goes on sale in this country this fall.
"We have very high hopes that Outlander will be a tremendous success here as it has been in Japan," Harunari told the dealers. "We wish to be clear that the continuation of our business is not directly tied to the sales success of the Outlander."
The letter also was signed by Osamu Masuko, president of Mitsubishi Motors Corp.
Led by the Galant and Eclipse coupe, Mitsubishi's sales in May were up 3.9 percent from last May to 11,821 units. Dealers sold 937 Outlanders, compared with 1,112 in May 2005.
For the year, Mitsubishi's sales are down 12.3 percent to 48,357.
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