Finbarr O'Neill, who moved from Hyundai Motor America last month to head Mitsubishi Motors North America, has shown dealers meeting in Las Vegas a long-rumored and eagerly awaited pickup truck, Automotive News reported.

Unlike the Japanese-designed and engineered 'Triton' models built in Thailand for sale in other markets, this new Mitsubishi is a 'proper' US-style pickup which, Automotive News said, is based on the redesigned Dodge Dakota due next year as a 2005 model; the Japanese brand's version is expected to be powered by a V6 and come as a four-door only.

Mitsubishi hopes to sell as many as 40,000 yearly, the motor industry newspaper said.

Automotive News said dealers were not given sales projections, price targets or production numbers for the truck but a dealer who attended the meeting told the paper it would boost his sales 20 to 30%.

Automotive News also reported that dealers were impressed by Mitsubishi's new US boss who was 18 years at Hyundai and given much of the credit for taking the once-struggling brand to its current success in the United States.

Mitsubishi, struggling with double-digit sales declines, poor credit ratings, excess inventories and low morale among its dealer group, is hoping for a similar result now O'Neill is on board, the paper added.

Dealers also told Automotive News they were shown the new Eclipse sport coupe and a new Lancer sport wagon.