With the Nissan alliance, strong cross-over sales and future-product announcements, Mitsubishi dealers had an exciting 2016. Now, dealers are waiting to see how the changes will affect them this year and beyond.
In October, Nissan Motor Co. folded Mitsubishi Motors Corp. into the Renault-Nissan Alliance, with Carlos Ghosn as chairman of the still nominally independent Mitsubishi.
"It's probably the most positive news we've received from the Mitsubishi brand in a decade," said Ryan Gremore, chairman of the Mitsubishi National Advisory Board in 2015 and 2016 and general manager of O'Brien Mitsubishi of Normal in Illinois.
Mitsubishi didn't need to be saved, Gremore added, but it needed some help.
Ghosn "knows that the potential with Mitsubishi is great and that the alliance can create some real synergy and some real dynamic power between these two great companies," Gremore said.
Still, U.S. Mitsubishi dealers are waiting to learn how the alliance will affect them, he said. "You've got to get this U.S. market fed. You've got to contribute to them and keep us engaged and feeling the love," Gremore said.
Last year, Mitsubishi's crossover sales grew with the Outlander and Outlander Sport. Gremore expects sales in that market to continue to increase when the Outlander PHEV and an unnamed crossover come out this year.
When the National Advisory Board was asked which product was missing from Mitsubishi's lineup, "We all said, "small truck,'" Gremore said. The Triton L200, which is built outside the U.S., would be a successful product here, he said.
Overall, Mitsubishi treats its dealers very well, Gremore said.
"They know that we're their best client, their only client, and they treat us like that," he said. "Are they perfect? No. But is there a sincere effort to have an open, trusting, communicative relationship? One hundred percent. They get an A."