TOKYO — Mitsubishi CEO Osamu Masuko has pledged a V-shaped recovery from the carmaker's profit plunge by taking advantage of crossovers and focusing on expansion in Southeast Asia and China.
Under the comeback plan, Mitsubishi Motors Corp. wants to boost worldwide volume by a fourth in less than three years — rising to 1.25 million annual sales in the fiscal year ending March 31, 2020, from about 1 million today.
Mitsubishi also wants to reach sustainable operating profit margins of at least 6 percent during that period, the level it was before a fuel economy scandal broadsided earnings last year.
Masuko outlined the first steps in Mitsubishi's road to recovery last week while announcing a 94 percent plunge in operating profit for the fiscal year ended March 31. During that period, the beleaguered carmaker also slumped to a net loss, from a profit the year before.
"What we have to do as a company is recover trust," Masuko said. "We have to realize a V-shaped recovery. We want to go back to the state before the improper conduct."
Mitsubishi admitted last year to cheating on fuel economy ratings for several nameplates in Japan. The scandal torpedoed sales in the home market and opened the door for Nissan Motor Co. to take a controlling 34 percent stake in its smaller Japanese rival last fall.
Earnings were hit by costs tied to the fuel economy misconduct, as well as by hefty foreign exchange rate losses and falling sales. Operating profit tumbled to ¥5.1 billion ($45.8 million) in the fiscal full year to March 31. The automaker ended the period with a net loss of $1.78 billion.
Revenue declined 16 percent to $17.17 billion, as global vehicle sales fell 12 percent to 926,000 in the full fiscal year.
Mitsubishi took a charge of $323.6 million to cover costs associated with improper fuel economy testing of vehicles sold in Japan.
Naoto Okamura contributed to this report.