While the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance deals with the cloud of the Carlos Ghosn scandal, a thin silver lining is forming over Mitsubishi Motors North America.
In the U.S., the brand is riding a six-year streak of sales increases and a second consecutive year of sales surpassing 100,000 vehicles. Last year's volume of 118,074, boosted by the introduction of the new Eclipse Cross crossover, was good for a 14 percent improvement. It was the brand's best sales year since 2007.
Meanwhile, Mitsubishi is making headway on a pair of key priorities underscored by Mitsubishi Motors North America CEO Fred Diaz, who took over in April 2018: making dealerships more responsive to customers and making headquarters more responsive to dealer concerns as it prepares to expand its retail network.
The company finished third among nonpremium brands and 12th overall in the latest J.D. Power Customer Service Index Study, extending a run of improvements in dealer service.
The study measures satisfaction with service at franchised and independent service operations for maintenance and repair work among owners and lessees of 1- to 3-year-old vehicles. It scores brands on five criteria: service initiation, vehicle pickup, service facility, service quality and service adviser.
Mitsubishi recorded the largest year-on-year improvement — 27 points — in the study. Since 2016, Mitsubishi has improved by 61 points, more than any other nonpremium brand during that span.
"You'd have to go back 30 years to see the Mitsubishi brand rank in that top tier among the nonpremium brands," Mark Chaffin, COO for the North America unit, told Automotive News. "It's something that wasn't a huge focus in the last decade, but as we've transitioned the brand in the last several years, it's clear that customer satisfaction is a major driver of how people see the brand."