Takao Kato being named as Mitsubishi Motors' next CEO is inevitable, pending the approval at an upcoming shareholders' meeting. Under his leadership, the company won't abandon its North American market, according to Kato's recent statements.
It sure is good news, as many have speculated Mitsubishi would be leave the United States, following the steps of Suzuki's car-building division, which left the country in 2012. But seven years later and the company is still present in American soil, and it's likely to stay committed with the American market.
Kato told industry trade journal Automotive News that leaving the U.S. market is "probably" not an option. However, he admitted the company's product plan needs a major overhaul.
"Sales are being continued. North America is one of the biggest markets," the executive said. "Therefore, exiting from the sales market would probably not be an option."
In order to bring success to Mitsubishi's plans, Kato will implement the "small but beautiful" strategy built by his predecessor, Osamu Masuko. The strategy used by the former CEO involves prioritizing profitability with steady growth rather than attempting to capitalize on quick volume expansion.
After taking over the company, Kato will release a mid-term business plan for Mitsubishi Motors before fiscal year ends in April 2020. It should provide a better idea of what's to be expected next from the company now that he's taking the helm.
The company's plans through 2021 include a new SUV, possibly with the Montero or Pajero names, an updated Outlander Sport, a next-gen Outlander PHEV, and a possible midsize pickup truck. The company will reportedly design small cars for emerging markets like Southeast Asia as well.
There are also reports suggesting that Mitsubishi, along with Nissan and Renault might create a shared platform for future trucks. In the Nissan-Renault-Mitsubishi Alliance, Nissan holds a controlling stake of 34 percent in Mitsubishi Motors and 15 in Renault with voting rights. Renault, meanwhile, has a stake of 43.4 percent with voting rights in Nissan.
Joint projects are already in the pipeline. The next-generation Mirage will reportedly share its platform with the fifth-gen Renault Clio revealed during the 2019 Geneva auto show. Mitsubishi, meanwhile, is reportedly in charge of developing the design that will underpin the next generation of trucks from Renault and Nissan.
Prior to becoming the next CEO, Kato was running Mitsubishi's headquarters in Indonesia. He has also worked with Diamond Star Motors factory with Chrysler in the 1980s.