TOKYO -- Six months after taking operating control of Mitsubishi Motors Corp., Trevor Mann has put the carmaker back onto a profit trajectory.
Mann may also consider using Nissan Motor Co.'s products and North American factory capacity to revive Mitsu-bishi's U.S. fortunes.
Mitsubishi was bracing for its first operating loss in more than a decade when Mann became COO in November. But within three months, he cut purchasing costs and ramped up savings by combining efforts with Nissan.
Mitsubishi instead now expects to show a full-year profit for the fiscal year that ended March 31, Mann says.
The British-born Mann stepped into Mitsubishi's beleaguered operations last year at the direction of Nissan's then-CEO Carlos Ghosn after Nissan acquired a controlling 34 percent interest.
In an interview, Mann said that specific plans for Mitsubishi's future are being worked out. But he said the United States, China and Southeast Asia would be the main drivers of its recovery.
The Nissan partnership gives Mitsubishi new latitude to undertake plans that would have been impossible for the cash-strapped automaker acting alone. Mann said Mitsubishi may examine new vehicles such as a sedan or pickup for the U.S. The carmaker may also re-establish a factory footprint in North America, after pulling the plug on its only U.S. assembly plant last year.
Mann also wants to expand Mitsubishi's U.S. dealer network to stoke sales. The brand has 362 U.S. franchises.
"We need to start to grow. We need to start to improve our network," he said, adding that Mitsubishi will consider a range of possibilities. "We can reopen many things."
Known inside Nissan as a production and cost-control guru, Mann is directing a contingent of Nissan executives dispatched by Ghosn to turn Mitsubishi around. Ghosn is now chairman of Nissan and Mitsubishi.
Mann said Mitsubishi will unveil its blueprint for rebuilding in September or October, coinciding with the release of midterm business plans by alliance partners Nissan and Renault SA.
The strategy is not in concrete, but Mann forecasts a 20 percent increase in U.S. sales for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2018. That would bring Mitsubishi to about 120,000 vehicles. The U.S. was Mitsubishi's single biggest market last year.
Sales will get a lift from some new products, including the arrival this year of the Outlander PHEV plug-in hybrid crossover and the Eclipse Cross compact crossover.