A new generation of Mitsubishi's flagship Outlander crossover will debut in early 2021 on a platform shared with the redesigned Nissan Rogue.
In a flurry of fresh product news, Mitsubishi also said Wednesday it will freshen the Eclipse Cross small crossover and Mirage economy car early next year. And it will give the Outlander plug-in hybrid updated mechanicals this year.
The plans are going public as Mitsubishi North America struggles with falling sales as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and a lack of fresh product. Only last month, Mitsubishi Motors Corp. CEO Takao Kato indicated to shareholders in Japan that the automaker may be preparing to scale back growth efforts in bigger markets such as North America.
Mitsubishi's U.S. sales fell 58 per cent to 12,197 in the second quarter, the automaker reported, and deliveries declined 33 per cent to 47,760 vehicles in the first half. Canadian sales were also down 58 per cent in the second quarter, during which the automaker sold 2,827 new vehicles. But sales are off 41 per cent — down to 8,073 — through the first six months in Canada.
But the latest product updates suggest Mitsubishi intends to keep fighting.
"Between now and the end of the second quarter of 2021, Mitsubishi Motors North America will launch three considerably revised vehicles and one all-new, ground-up redesign, proof of the company's commitment to deliver high-quality, top-value, leading-edge technology vehicles," the company said.
The fourth-generation Outlander is highly anticipated by Mitsubishi dealers to inject some fresh blood into the brand by leveraging its alliance with Nissan Motor Co., which has deeper pockets for vehicle development despite its own sales challenges. The current Outlander debuted for the 2014 model year and is typically Mitsubishi's bestselling model.
The updated Outlander, available in two-row and three-row configurations, was originally expected by dealers in the fourth quarter of this year.
Mitsubishi did not provide any images of the planned redesign, but some dealers were invited to see it Wednesday at the company's new North American headquarters outside of Nashville.
Although it will slot on architecture shared with the Rogue, the Outlander will use Mitsubishi's design language "with a bold, aggressive and distinctive appearance," the company said.
Mitsubishi released an image of the 2021 Mirage with a freshened exterior. The updated hatchback and sedan versions of the car, last redesigned for 2017, go on sale in the first quarter of 2021, Mitsubishi said. U.S. sales of the Mirage fell 43 percent to 3,807 in the second quarter, and dropped 35 percent in the first six months. Second-quarter Canadian sales are off 43 per cent to 345 while sales are down 49 per cent to 696 through the first six months.
The updated Outlander PHEV will go on sale in winter as a 2021 model and will sport a more powerful gasoline engine, greater all-electric range and small updates to each trim level.
The 2022 Eclipse Cross will show major front and rear design changes and goes on sale early next year with interior upgrades and a new infotainment system.
The company said the new Outlander will be "loaded with technology and significant interior refinements" in addition to an exterior redesign. "This game-changing vehicle will surprise many," the automaker said.
Mitsubishi's product updates for Canada and the United States could quell some concerns about its commitment to the market, where U.S. sales last year posted their best performance since 2007, but only reached 121,046 across 350 dealerships. Mitsubishi sales in Canada were up 1.2 per cent to 25,535 in 2019
Addressing investors during Mitsubishi's annual shareholders meeting last month, Kato said the automaker will dial down business in megamarkets such as Europe and China. He didn't mention North America or the United States by name. But the company later confirmed that it indeed considers the United States a megamarket.
"We aim to increase sales in the regions where we can offer our core products," Kato told shareholders. "We will gradually reduce our commitment to megamarkets."