TOKYO -- Mitsubishi Motors Corp. will fortify its fragile U.S. rebound with three electrified crossovers in five years, a bolstered regulatory listening post in Washington, D.C., and a new advanced technology office in Silicon Valley opening in January.
CEO Osamu Masuko told Automotive News the Japanese carmaker will channel limited resources into a more compact lineup after closing its only U.S. assembly plant.
That likely means no new sedan to succeed the aging Lancer and no dedicated electric vehicle to replace the subcompact i-MiEV, he said.
Instead, Mitsubishi will introduce a new small coupe-styled crossover after the fall of 2017 to slot between the midsize Outlander and the compact Outlander Sport. A redesigned Outlander will arrive sometime after 2017, and the next-generation Outlander Sport will arrive around 2019, Masuko said.
"We are strong in SUVs and four-wheel drives. And that is what we would like to focus on as core models in the U.S. market. We have changed direction," Masuko said. "We are going to allocate more resources to the areas where we are strong in the U.S."
To keep the nameplates fresh until their full-model changes, Mitsubishi will roll out "big minor changes," such as the retooled Outlander Sport and face-lifted Mirage subcompact hatchback unveiled at the Los Angeles Auto Show in November.
Mitsubishi also will launch the Outlander PHEV, the plug-in hybrid version of the nameplate's current generation, in the U.S. in the middle of next year.
The other three coming crossovers will get electrified drivetrains as variants to the standard gasoline versions, Masuko said.
The redesigned Outlander and new crossover will get plug-in hybrid variants, while the Outlander Sport will go all-electric alongside its traditional gasoline model.
The lineup overhaul comes as Mitsubishi positions crossovers, which account for 58 percent of its U.S. volume, as a pillar of its revival plan. Its U.S. sales climbed 25 percent to 80,683 vehicles through October, thanks largely to booming crossover demand.
Refocusing on crossovers will help Mitsubishi prioritize investments and cut costs.