A Mitsubishi dealer told Wards Auto last year that "the most requested model at the brand's U.S. dealer meetings is 'a pickup truck, a pickup truck, a pickup truck.'" This month, Mitsubishi North America's COO told Wards that the carmaker has its eye on getting back to the compact pickup segment in the U.S., but that it will take time. "[We'd] have to have one that's the right fit for Mitsubishi," he said, "for our demographic, and something that's really competitive in the market."
That wasn't the case with the last compact pickup the brand sold here, the Raider. A product of the Daimler-Chrysler alliance with Mitsubishi at the time, the Raider was a rebadged Dodge Dakota. The pickup sputtered through four years of meager sales, being pulled from the market in 2009.
As part of the Renault-Nissan alliance, Mitsubishi's been put in charge of the group's next midsize body-on-frame platform, Automotive News reports. The chassis will underpin the next-gen Mitsubishi Triton (2019 model pictured), Nissan Navara and Renault Alaskan, and if Daimler continues the tie-up with Renault, the next Mercedes X-Class. It sounds like Mitsubishi has already made room for electrification, the COO telling Wards, "you start mixing in some of that electrification technology and these hybrid drivetrains, the aspect of performance is really going to change in the future."
The carmaker does very well with its compact Triton pickup, sold in 150 overseas markets under that name as well as L200 and Strada. Wards says LMC Automotive predicts a Triton will come to the U.S. as a 2025 model, but we can't know how similar our model would be to the international model. Our Nissan Frontier, for instance, is not the same as the Frontier sold overseas, the global truck also known as the Navara and NP300.
The five-year wait shows Mitsubishi won't be reckless with any new launch now that it has a vision and momentum to protect. The Japanese carmaker has posted sales gains in the U.S. for six straight years. The last two years surpassed 100,000 units, 2018 delivering a 14 percent jump over 2017 in spite of Mitsubishi having just four models on sale here.