Masuko ascended to the top of Mitsubishi Motors alike admitting he transferred into the aggregation backward in his career, a aberration in Japan, area aggregation lifers about ascend to the top of the ladder.
He was beatific by Mitsubishi Group’s trading close Mitsubishi Corp., again one of its top shareholders, to advice animate the carmaker afterwards its abrupt alliance and blowzy annulment with DaimlerChrysler.
He stepped in aloof afore the Great Recession throttled the all-around auto industry.
Mitsubishi’s U.S. sales fell by added than bisected to 53,986 cartage in 2009, from 128,993 cartage two years earlier. Its aggregate hovered beneath 100,000 a year until 2017 and grew to 121,046 in 2019. But the brand’s U.S. sales still languished far beneath the almanac 345,111 appointed in 2002.
Masuko pushed advanced with rebranding Mitsubishi as a purveyor of electrified vehicles, crossovers and SUVs.
While added auto chiefs would be chauffeured about boondocks in affluence limousines, Masuko would shuttle about Tokyo in a red-and-white i-MiEV. The four-passenger minicar, launched in 2010, was Mitsubishi’s aboriginal mass-market EV. And Mitsubishi approved to carve out a alcove spanning the segments with its Outlander PHEV constituent amalgam crossover.
But brittle affairs meant Mitsubishi was usually beggared to advance acutely in new technologies for electrification and free driving. And bankrupt for cash, the aggregation alone some of its long-running commuter cars, including the Eclipse adventurous car and Lancer and Galant sedans.
Masuko, again 65, seemed assertive to affluence himself into retirement in 2014, back he handed the admiral to Tetsuro Aikawa, a adept architect acclaimed for arch development of such Japan-market minicars as Mitsubishi’s eK Wagon and the egg-shaped i.
Masuko took the then-vacant CEO position in accession to actual chairman.
As allotment of the awakening plan beneath Masuko and Aikawa, Mitsubishi absitively to bang its alone North American accumulation plant, the underutilized branch in Normal, Ill., it opened in 1988 as a collective adventure with then-partner Chrysler.
Mitsubishi additionally dangled affairs for assorted new EVs and plug-ins, none of which materialized. But any backlash was batty in 2016, back Mitsubishi accepted it had been overstating fuel-economy ratings on four minicar models awash in Japan by Mitsubishi and Nissan.
The artificial fuel-economy after-effects were apparent back Nissan noticed discrepancies and alleged out Mitsubishi. Mitsubishi’s sales tanked, and so did its allotment price.