And it wants to go after the Ford Maverick, too.
Mitsubishi wants to expand its US range by introducing a midsize pickup truck, which could reboot the brand in the US market. Looking at its current range, the Outlander and Outlander PHEV are the only relevant and desirable models left.
According to The Drive, Mitsubishi's Director for Product Planning in North America, Cason Grover, said the Japanese brand is interested in competing in the midsize and compact pickup segments, which currently consists of the Ford Ranger, Nissan Frontier, Toyota Tacoma, and Chevrolet Colorado.
"It's an area we're certainly interested in because we have a lot of global success. We have history in the US as well," said Grover. "We'd love to be able to do it."
The Mitsubishi Triton was sold as the Mighty Max and Dodge Ram 50 in the USA. Certain loopholes in the Chicken Tax allowed imported models to get around the 25% import duty. President Johnson signed it into law in 1963, but manufacturers kept importing trucks as chassis cabs, and final assembly would take place in the states. That way, manufacturers only had to pay a 4% import duty. The loophole was closed in 1989 following a reclassification of vehicles.
"At the end of the day, we don't have US manufacturing right now, and fundamentally the Chicken Tax is [a problem]," said Grover. "You can't just wedge that [the current fifth-generation Triton] into somebody else's plant over [in the USA].
"So anything we would do-and this is just hypothetical-we'd likely have to go to an alliance partner that does build [a midsize pickup truck]."
Luckily, the Renault/Nissan/Mitsubishi alliance, which underwent significant restructuring in recent weeks, grants Mitsubishi access to local plants.
The Nissan Frontier is built in Canton, Mississippi. Mitsubishi's fifth-generation Triton is also due for replacement, as it has been on sale for roughly eight years. A recent report suggests that the next-generation Navara (the Frontier's global counterpart) and Triton are being developed side-by-side, with Mitsubishi doing the brunt of the work. The new midsize pickup will reportedly be based on the existing Navara platform, which would be a win for Mitsubishi since the current Frontier uses the same platform, albeit reinforced slightly.
Dedicating a line at the Canton facility would be relatively easy and cheap. Given America's current buying habits, we don't see the Triton as more than an alternative niche product.
Grover also said that Mitsubishi might even go after the popular Ford Maverick. "The Ranger, the old Ranger, that was much smaller, had so much volume and was around so long," said Grover. "The Maverick really almost [does] what the Ranger used to do, being affordable."
A smaller Mitsubishi pickup would likely be a unibody design like the Maverick and Hyundai Santa Cruz, in which case the Japanese manufacturer also has options in the USA. The Outlander and Nissan Rogue use the same platform, with the latter being built in the USA. Mitsubishi could design a smaller pickup around the Rogue's platform and existing engine options and assemble it in the same factory.
Grover stated that these plans are not set in concrete but that it has noticed the situation in the USA.
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