LOS ANGELES -- Mitsubishi Motors North America has downsized its four regional field offices into two zones -- East and West.
Mitsubishi also has set up a separate task force to service its 41 dealers in California due to the steep sales declines experienced by Mitsubishi and almost every other brand in the state.
Some dealers say they were told Mitsubishi is making the changes because of the brands sales slide not only in California but also nationwide. Through April 30, Mitsubishis sales were down 17.7 percent nationwide to 35,959 units.
In a statement, CEO Hiroshi Harunari said the changes are being made to make the brand more efficient.
We are confident that these improvements will place Mitsubishi Motors in a stronger position to address the market changes expected to continue well into the future, Haurnari said.
Make no mistake. These improvements are a further demonstration of Mitsubishi Motors commitment to the North American market. We will be enhancing levels of service to dealers and focusing on building a strong network within the state of California.
Spokesman Dan Irvin says Mitsubishi has 485 dealers, including the 41 in California.
The Eastern zone will be operated out of the Northeast regional office in Bridgeport, N.J. The Western zone will be headquartered in the Central region office in Irving, Texas.
The Southeast regional office in Orlando and the Western regional office in Cypress, Calif., will close. The company says the district managers in the closed regions will report to one of the remaining offices.
Irvin said he did not know what the task force will do in California, but dealers say California dealers will get special incentives to help them be more competitive here.
Said one Mitsubishi dealer, who did not want to be identified: In L.A. County, total (Mitsubishi) registrations are down close to 50 percent year-to-date, and market share is 0.4 percent.
According to data from the California New Car Dealers Association, retail sales for all brands in the state (excluding fleets) totaled 383,665 for the first quarter of this year. Thats down 19.3 percent from the same quarter last year.
The association did not release actual retail sales numbers for individual brands but showed Mitsubishis decline for the quarter was 38 percent. Only Hummer, Suzuki, Jaguar and Saab fared worst than Mitsubishi in California.
Only two brands posted increased retail sales for the quarter: Buick and Mini.