CABO SAN LUCAS, Mexico -- Mitsubishi will focus its upcoming marketing on just two vehicle "families" -- Lancer and Outlander -- leaving the U.S.-built Galant sedan, Endeavor crossover and Eclipse coupe and Spyder out in the cold.
The new approach appears to preview the troubled brand's future U.S. model strategy, being formulated in Japan.
The Lancer and Outlander accounted for nearly two-thirds of the automaker's U.S. sales through September.
"They're our pillar models as we develop a strategy for growth," said Greg Adams, vice president of marketing and product planning for Mitsubishi Motors North America. "When you're as small as we are, you need to focus."
Mitsubishi offers two body styles and three significantly different trim levels for the Lancer small car, ranging from the nearly $15,000 base model to the more than $40,000 high-performance Lancer Evolution.
The Outlander crossover will be joined in November by a smaller vehicle, the Outlander Sport. The two nameplates are based on the GS platform.
The new marketing strategy is part of Mitsubishi's effort to end a U.S. sales drought. In 2007, the automaker sold 128,993 new vehicles in the United States. By the end of 2009, sales had plummeted to 53,986, and the brand is down 3 percent for the first nine months of this year.
The full details of the product plan will be unveiled next month by Mitsubishi Motors Corp. in Japan. The company also will lay out what it plans to do with the assembly plant in Normal, Ill., which builds the Galant, Endeavor and Eclipse coupe and Spyder. Those vehicles were conspicuously absent from the marketing strategy outlined during a press event here this month.
In a September interview with Automotive News, Mitsubishi Motors Corp. President Osamu Masuko said he hopes eventually to sell 200,000 vehicles annually in the United States. But he said overhauling the U.S. lineup, which has long leaned toward large sedans and SUVs, is essential to a turnaround.
"From what we know at the moment, it is not possible to continue with the models that we have had," Masuko said.
Adams, the North American marketing executive, said he didn't know what Japanese executives plan to do with the Galant, Eclipse and Endeavor.
"We have submitted a number of ideas about what we would like to do with all of the lineup," he said. "They're looking at it and how it fits with the overall strategy because Mitsubishi in Japan drives where we want to go."