TOKYO — Mitsubishi Motors Corp.'s rebounding North American business helped the automaker return to profitability in the just-finished fiscal year, thanks to new product and a double-digit increase in regional sales.
Executives said the region got a boost from the addition of the Eclipse Cross crossover in the January-March fiscal fourth quarter. Mitsubishi also worked to lift the average monthly sales per dealer of its U.S. retail network to improve profitability.
"We had a relatively large disengagement with our dealer network in the U.S.," COO Trevor Mann said last week. "We have made an improvement from around 125 dealers that were selling less than eight [vehicles] per month to less than 100 dealers which are selling less than eight per month."
Wholesale deliveries rose 7.7 percent to 182,000 vehicles in North America in the fiscal year ended March 31.
North American operating profit reached ¥1 billion ($9.4 million) in the 12-month period, swinging back from a loss of $156.3 million the year before.
Momentum should continue thanks to the introduction of the Outlander PHEV plug-in hybrid crossover, Mann said. North American sales are predicted to expand 19 percent to 184,000 vehicles in the current fiscal year ending March 31, 2019.
"We've got the improvement in the dealer network, and we've got two models which we are launching," he said. "That's why we have confidence we can continue to grow."
Globally, Mitsubishi's fiscal year operating profit jumped 19-fold to $924.5 million. The company posted net income of $1 billion, reversing from a net loss of $1.87 billion in the previous fiscal year.
Revenue climbed 15 percent to $20.6 billion, while worldwide retail sales grew 19 percent to 1.1 million vehicles during the year.
The robust results underscored the V-shaped recovery that CEO Osamu Masuko has pursued since a fuel economy reporting scandal hit the automaker in 2016 and former rival Nissan took control of the company.
"We made concerted efforts companywide to achieve three goals," Masuko said. "Rebuild credibility damaged by the improper fuel economy issue, put the business performance back on a V-shaped recovery trajectory, and launch new models successfully."