Mitsubishi Motors Corporation (MMC) has announced plans to completely consolidate its North American sales, manufacturing, finance, and research and development operations into a new single organization.

The company will be called Mitsubishi Motors North America (MMNA) and will be led by a new management structure composed of North American executives who have recently overseen an overhaul of the company’s operations in the United States.

MMC says that success in North America – including three consecutive years of record US sales, profits, brand awareness and productivity – has become one of the primary engines driving MMC’s global turnaround.

“North America has emerged as a thriving market for Mitsubishi Motors and is now recognized in Japan as an important target for further growth and investment,” said Rolf Eckrodt, president and CEO of MMC. “Creating one single, unified organization allows for better synergies with Mitsubishi’s global operations and reflects the recent success and the enormous potential we see in this critical region.”

Steve Torok, executive vice president of international car operations for MMC, noted that Mitsubishi Motors is preparing for an unprecedented wave of new product launches in North America, introducing seven new products over the next three years, and that the company’s plans to expand into Canada are well ahead of schedule. Through its alliance with DaimlerChrysler, Mitsubishi is also developing plans to begin selling cars in Mexico in early 2003.

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“We’ve made tremendous strides over the past several years,” Torok added. “But we’ve really just begun. Our next phase of growth is coming on fast and we need to be prepared with a focused organization that can move quickly and react without hesitation.”

Mitsubishi Motors announced that Pierre Gagnon will be promoted to president and CEO of MMNA and he will be responsible for leading all Mitsubishi Motors operations in the United States, Canada, Mexico and Puerto Rico. Gagnon becomes first ever North American to lead Mitsubishi Motors in North America since the company was established in the United States in 1981.

Mitsubishi Motors expects MMNA to be fully established by the first quarter of 2003. In the meantime, Gagnon will assume the position of president and CEO of Mitsubishi Motors America (MMA), the legal name for Mitsubishi’s North American administrative organization connected to the individual sales and manufacturing companies.

Rich Gilligan, currently president and COO of Mitsubishi Motor Manufacturing of America, Inc. (MMMA), will retain his current responsibilities as head of Mitsubishi’s North American manufacturing operation, and will assume an expanded role for quality and procurement throughout North America. Gilligan will also join Mitsubishi’s Global Production Integration team.

Mitsubishi Motors also announced the promotion of Greg O’Neill to president and COO of MMSA. O’Neill replaces Gagnon and will assume responsibility for all sales and marketing functions within the new organisation.

Mitsubishi Motors says the new company structure will increase Mitsubishi Motors’ competitive advantage in North America by integrating all aspects of the company’s operations, from engineering and design to distribution and marketing strategies and will ensure development and delivery of the best products to meet market demands.