While Iâ€™d love to run a headline saying something to the effect of â€œMitsu Raids Corporate Cupboard for a New Raider,â€� I think the chances of a full-sized, badge-engineered Diamond Star pickup are somewhere between nil and nada, no matter the background of the brand’s new CEO.
Diaz will take the reins from Ryujiro Kobashi, who will return to the mothership in Japan after overseeing the brand in this country for four years. Reportedly, Kobashi will assume a role in overseas sales in Tokyo.
Diaz joined Nissan in 2013 when the company poached him from Ram and installed him as its senior vice president for American sales and marketing. He was later asked to step up the automaker’s efforts in the light truck arena as Division Vice President and General Manager of North America Trucks Light Commercial Vehicles at Nissan North America. His new appointment is effective April 1.
Becoming head of Mitsubishi on April Foolâ€™s Day. Hmm…
This author has had the privilege of meeting Mr. Diaz at a truck event. An affable guy with a quick grin, the man knows his trucks. He oversaw the creation of Ram as a standalone brand in 2009 as well as the launch of the refreshed 2013 Ram 1500 during that model year. He started at Chrysler in 1989.
Commenting on the appointment, Chief Operating Officer Trevor Mann stated, “The United States is a strategic market for Mitsubishi Motors in our Drive for Growth plan. With his in-depth background and experience in North America, Fred has a strong ability to proactively engage with Mitsubishi Motors’ dealers and customers as we aim to expand our dealership network, enhance our brand, and drive sales growth.”
In October of last year, Mitsubishi announced a three-year plan titled â€œDrive for Growthâ€� in which it aims to improve the companyâ€™s U.S. dealership network and grow sales by 30 percent to 130,000 units per year.
To put that in perspective, Mitsubishiâ€™s U.S. deliveries have risen annually since 2012, including a gain last year that pushed the brand above 100,000 units for the first time since 2007. In 2002, at the height of Fast and Furious mania, the brand sold 345,111 machines. Dealerships in the Great White North contributed about 20,000 annual sales to Mitsubishiâ€™s coffers every year since 2008.
For the 2018 model year, Mitsubishi has the Mirage and Mirage G4 to show customers who are shopping for a car. Those interested in crossovers will be pointed to either the seven-passenger Outlander, the five-passenger Outlander Sport, or the new Eclipse Cross. Both the i-MiEV and Lancer have vanished for 2018.
[Images: Mitsubishi Motors]