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Another Japanese Automaker Wants To Crack The US Truck Market

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And this time it has the friends to help it get there.

Mainstream, mass-market automakers that want to be competitive in the US market need pickup trucks. And Mitsubishi wants to be successful in the US mass market. So in that context, it should come as little surprise that it's closely considering launching a new pickup truck here in the near future.

"We would like to have (a pickup), but we'd have to have one that's the right fit for Mitsubishi, for our demographic, and something that's really competitive in the market," the Japanese automaker's North American COO Mark Chaffin told Wards.

The difficulty Chaffin outlines is finding "the right fit." The last time Mitsubishi sold a pickup in America was with the Raider. It was offered between 2005 and 2009 as a rebadged version of the Dodge Dakota, stemming from the same Diamond-Star partnership that gave birth to the Dodge Stealth/Mitsubishi 3000GT and the Eagle Talon/Mitsubishi Eclipse.

The Japanese automaker sold fewer than 7,500 Raiders at its peak in 2007 –compared to the 50,000+ Dakotas that Dodge sold that same year (down from a peak of 177k in 2000) and the 173k Tacomas sold by Toyota.

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This time around, Mitsubishi is tied in to Nissan, which has a stronger track record selling pickups in America. Mitsubishi has taken the lead in developing a new mid-size pickup for the alliance to replace the aging Nissan Frontier and Navara and Mitsubishi's L200/Triton that's proven popular overseas. Between them, the current models also underpin the Renault Alaskan, Mercedes X-Class, and Fiat Fullback.

Mitsu's prime motivation may, in the end, come from its dealers. "A Mitsubishi dealer last year told Wards the most requested model at the brand's U.S. dealer meetings is 'a pickup truck, a pickup truck, a pickup truck.'"

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