Shouldn't it be the other way around?
It wasn’t too long ago when Mitsubishi was in real trouble, both financially and legally. Like Volkswagen, it too found itself embroiled in a fuel economy scandal and, for a few weeks, we weren’t so sure whether the Japanese automaker would survive. Then Renault-Nissan came to its rescue and purchased enough of the company to make it a part of its global alliance, now called the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance.
Mitsubishi North America is also doing well these days, with profits up and new models like the Outlander PHEV and Eclipse Cross, but there’s still plenty of more work to do. For example, how about a pickup truck? According to Australia’s Car Advice, it appears something is cooking in that department.
Apparently, Mitsubishi has been tasked with taking a lead role in developing the next generation pickup truck platform that’ll serve as a replacement for today’s Triton/L2000 and Nissan Navara (which also underpins the Mercedes-Benz X-Class), neither of which are sold in the US. It would make sense for this to be a global truck platform, hence our interest.
Mitsubishi’s chief operating officer and former Nissan VP, Trevor Mann, stated that in regards to the new truck platform, Mitsubishi, despite being a junior partner in the Alliance, is expected to take charge. “I think it's the other way around (Mitsubishi instead of Nissan). It’s not a promise but if you look at the expertise we (Mitsubishi) have…” And he’s right. Mitsubishi has lots of experience with trucks and SUVs, despite being crossover happy in the US these days. Remember the Montero, for example?
“Based on the expertise question, the company with the most expertise at a certain category would take the lead, which is why I intimated we would be the potential leader for frame (body-on-frame) platforms,” Mann added. This approach does make sense, especially if it were to be sold in the US. We spoke to Mitsubishi last March at Geneva and we were specifically told there are plans to re-enter the SUV market in the US, although no time frame was given.
“We have 4x4 expertise, and we have framed vehicle expertise. Obviously Nissan also has a level of 4x4 ability, but I think what we have in terms of our AWD system, that defines our brand and is a brand differentiator,” Mann said.