The auto industry has hit many hardships this year with the COVID-19 pandemic shutting down manufacturing plants and causing many financial losses. In late May 2020, the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance announced mid-term plans for the future development of the alliance and automotive vehicles going forward. Things were looking up, Mitsubishi Motors was the first automaker set to enter the market with a new vehicle, and a lot of interesting technology was on the rise. As the saying goes, open a window, close a door, and Mitsubishi Motors recently lost a strong member of the team at the end of August with the passing of former CEO Osamu Masuko.
What a huge loss for the automaker. Having joined Mitsubishi Motors Corporation (MMC) in 2005, Masuko spent 16 years at Mitsubishi, rebuilding the brand and bringing it back from the brink of collapse time and again. A company with hardship needs a strong leader, and Masuko was the man for the job. According to the company, the many achievements of the automaker today are thanks to his management skills that helped the company overcome many difficulties.
In just a few years, Mitsubishi Motors would bounce back before a decades-long scandal caused problems for the automaker. Only pushing forward, Masuko helped to engineer the partnership between Nissan and Mitsubishi Motors in an agreement with Nissan’s former chairman and CEO, Carlos Ghosn. Although Nissan had their own fallout with Ghosn, Nissan obtained a 34-percent equity stake in Mitsubishi Motors in 2016, cementing the partnership and indicting Mitsubishi into the now Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance.
Working with Nissan was only the most recent move that Masuko made that helped Mitsubishi build itself back up. Under his management, MMC also entered into a partnership with French automaker Groupe PSA (now a part of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles) to build vehicles in Russia, and at one time worked with Peugeot and Citroen to rebadge and sell electric cars in Europe. Later, Mitsubishi had its own success with alternative fuel with the Outlander PHEV.
Pushing towards more ecological vehicles, Masuko was intent on making the alliance a success with alternative fuel, plug-in hybrids, and battery-powered vehicles like electric vehicles (EVs). He was one of few CEOs in the automotive industry that knew the future was in these technologies – but Masuko also knew Mitsubishi needed a strong partner for success. Designating the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, one best-selling vehicle in the plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) segment, as the main model for the alliance, the goal was to make the Alliance the standard for SUVs, all-wheel drive, and plug-in hybrids.
As the company continues to recover from its losses this year, we hope Masuko’s leadership will continue to lead the company to success. A new CEO will shortly be chosen, but a replacement will be hard to match a man like Osamu Masuko. Despite these hardships, the future for the automaker is currently looking strong after the mid-term plans announcement by the Alliance.
All we know at the moment is Mitsubishi Motors is set to release a vehicle in the C/D segment, and with plug-in hybrid vehicles on the forefront, signs are pointing to a new concept altogether. We were hoping for more information on the Mitsubishi Engelberg Tourer concept shown at the 2019 Geneva International Motor Show, but this new car is something between a subcompact car and a large car, so no dice. You can find more stories about Mitsubishi Motors when you follow Miami Lakes Mitsubishi on social media.