A new global message, ‘Spirited cars for spirited people’, will help Mitsubishi Motors draw on its success in North America — where it claims to have the youngest buyer profile of any of the Japanese import brands — and woo the young market, said Pierre Gagnon, President and Chief Operating Officer of Mitsubishi Motors Sales of America Inc., at the Detroit motor show this week.

“Thirty eight per cent of our buyers are aged under 35 which gives us the youngest average age of any Japanese car maker in the US.

“For the US, the company will adopt a slogan of “wake up and drive” he said.

MMSA, a subsidiary of Mitsubishi Motors Corporation of Japan, sells a diverse range including the US-built Galant and Eclipse sport coupe, the imported Lancer small saloon and the Montero (Pajero/Shogun) and Montero Sport (Challenger) SUVs. The brand achieved record sales during 2001, the third year in a row.

“One record year might be luck, two a fluke, but three record years in a row means we are really working,” Gagnon said.

His optimism was shared by MMC Chief Operating Officer Rolf Eckrodt, who has just completed his first year in the job after transferring from DaimlerChrysler, which owns a substantial shareholding in MMC.

“We have made a lot of progress with record increases in productivity and quality and the turnround [plan announced
last year] is ahead of schedule. We expect to break even in the financial year ending this March,” Eckrodt said.

Eckrodt added that Mitsubishi was establishing a different brand identity for itself within the DaimlerChrysler Alliance and would be launching 16 new models worldwide in the next two years “with more to come”.

The company, under design chief Olivier Boulay, has produced four new concept vehicles in as many months, displaying them at the Frankfurt, Tokyo and Detroit motor shows.

“These show a clear focus for our new design identity and have been achieved with speed, passion, teamwork and a commitment to deliver,” Eckrodt said.

Boulay, unveiling the all-new SUP cabriolet concept, said that spirit was the driving force for everything his team was

“The front face of the cars is just part of the job to give a really strong image. It is important to give the cars a family
likeness by the size and shape of the front badge, for example,” he said.

“Our design must respect that, but not become a prisoner of it. Functionality is the philosophy behind each car and the
SUP cabriolet is aimed at young people with high-tech hobbies.”

Boulay added that Mitsubishi had “a tremendous range of vehicles” and he aimed to “refresh it from the bottom up.”

His company had in the past been good at creating cars that made people happy and made them dream. He wants to get back to that “drive and dream” image for Mitsubishi.

The SUP is a four-wheel drive four-seater and is powered by a direct injection petrol hybrid drive train with an electric
motor at each rear wheel. The long roof retracts fully and novel features include door panels which detach to act as
carry bags and a built-in shower.