TOKYO — Mitsubishi's fitful attempt to reboot its U.S. business may be in for still more change, the automaker's newly named CEO signaled.
Takao Kato, tapped this month as the next global CEO, said Mitsubishi Motors Corp. needs to readjust its U.S. operations in line with the company's new "small but beautiful" strategy.
"It's not easy to be in that market," Kato acknowledged last week in his first news conference since being named to succeed Osamu Masuko. "If you are a big-scale OEM, of course you will be able to secure a profit. But will that be appropriate for us too, at MMC?"
Kato concedes he doesn't yet have an answer. But he knows how tough the U.S. has become. In his early days, the Mitsubishi lifer helped set up the Japanese carmaker's first North American assembly plant — originally a joint venture with Chrysler Corp. in Normal, Ill., called Diamond-Star Motors that opened in 1988.
In the decades since, Mitsubishi's U.S. sales have plunged and Mitsubishi itself pulled the plug on that factory in 2016. It is now home to Rivian Automotive, an electric pickup startup.