The first step to rekindling growth is building the lineup.
Mitsubishi will start selling the redesigned Outlander crossover in the United States in July and begin importing the Mirage small car from Thailand in September, Masuko said. The plug-in hybrid version of the Outlander crossover will go on sale in the United States in January 2014, he said.
"What we have to do is to provide these dealers with attractive products," he said. "If you don't provide dealers attractive products, they are not going to invest in their dealerships."
Masuko's comments were Mitsubishi's first confirmation that the pint-sized Mirage hatchback would make it stateside. Masuko said the company had delayed a decision because brisk demand was causing supply constraints at its Thailand plant.
The plant is running "at full capacity of 150,000 units. And even at that level, it's not keeping up with orders," Masuko said. "So in mid next year, we are going to increase the capacity of the Thailand plant from 150,000 vehicles to 200,000 units."
Mitsubishi also plans to boost production at its Normal, Ill., plant that makes about 50,000 Outlander Sport small crossovers a year.
Masuko intends to increase output to 70,000 units next year, with production supporting increased exports to markets such as Russia, Latin America and the Middle East. "This was a very big decision for us," Masuko said. "We're going to have an export base in the United States."
Mitsubishi's U.S. sales fell 29 percent to 50,103 through October. Among Japanese brands, only Suzuki sold fewer.
Mitsubishi's U.S. sales slide follows the discontinuation of four main vehicles: the Eclipse coupe, Eclipse Spyder convertible, Galant sedan and Endeavor crossover.
To lead the rebound, Masuko last month named Gayu Uesugi chairman of Mitsubishi Motors North America.
The move was part of a new strategy to dedicate a board member to each of three critical regions where Mitsubishi aims to boost its business, Masuko said. The other regions, China and Japan, were assigned board members as lead troubleshooters.
Uesugi will give up his duties as head of product development, research and cost control to focus exclusively on North America, Masuko said. He will likely be based in Illinois to be close to Mitsubishi's factory.
Masuko also said the upcoming Mirage will get an electric vehicle variant. But that car is unlikely to make it to the United States, where the i has sold only 469 units through October, compared with earlier projections for 20,000 a year.
Mitsubishi has no plans for an EV successor to the i and will likely shift its focus toward plug-in and traditional hybrids.
"Rather than EVs," Masuko said, "we have greater expectations for plug-ins in the United States."