Category Archive:

Stuck to the Dealer's Floor – Inventory Numbers Tell the Story

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Which cars and trucks are planted to the dealer’s floor? In other words, which vehicles take the longest to sell? Who cars? Why does it matter, anyway?
Well, while it may not seem that important to you, it’s critically important to the industry s a whole… from the manufacturese, component suppliers, dealers and quite a few financial institutions. First, if you know the time it takes to sell a vehicle, you know how much it is dragging on the dealer’s floorplanning costs. Floorplanning is the term for the amount it costs the dealer to finance the a vehicle in inventory waiting to be sold. If a vehicle has been hanging around for weeks, he’ll be more likely to deal aggressively to get rid of it. Also, vehicles that have high days supply may be less popular. From that perspective, they may be the ones you want to stay away from.


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2006 Paris Auto Show: Mitsubishi Pajero

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Though Mitsubishi dropped the Montero from its North American lineup with the 2007MY, the vehicle continues for international markets. In Europe and Japan it has been seen as the Pajero and as the Shogun, and Mitsubishi chose Paris for the worldwide reveal of the latest iteration.

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Highway 1 in a 2007 Mitsubishi Outlander

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Mitsubishi has an all-new compact SUV for its 2007 lineup. Though it carries the Outlander name, there is little that the second Outlander shares with the first, other than the Lancer platform. This time, though, Outlander is the launch product for Mitsubishi’s all-new C-segment platform. The result is a more grown-up and sophisticated compact SUV. The first generation did not fare well in the marketplace, selling only 75,000 units between late 2002 and 2005, the new version has more to offer in all areas.

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Sales begin in the United States in November 2006, and AutoPacific and VehicleVoice were invited to be among the early drivers. Using the Hotel Vitale in San Francisco as a home base, Mitsubishi plotted out an entertaining drive route that took us across the Golden Gate Bridge to Highway 1 and up to Bogeda Bay.
Finally, a Competitive Package
Styling has grown up; there is a modern silhouette, better overall proportions, and more attractive styling. The first Outlander looked like a short-but-tall wagon with big bumpers (click here and here for images). The old underwhelming 160HP 2.4L I4 is replaced by a 220HP 3.0L V6 and six-speed automatic (magnesium paddle shifters are optional). There is an improved interior with thoughtful storage and convenience touches and optional jump seats give room for seven in a pinch.
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For the 2007MY, there are several new or updated compact SUVs, including the Jeep Compass (click for VehicleVoice Compass review), Jeep Patriot, Honda CR-V, and Suzuki SX4. Against these products, and solid entries like the Hyundai Tucson and Kia Sportage, the Outlander brings more power, more size, and more features. The new Outlander can better justify having one of the highest MSRPs of the available Compact SUVs.


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Let's Talk Cars: Dodge Caliber Test Drive, the Nissan Quest and the Mitsubishi "I"

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Welcome to Let’s Talk Cars

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This week on Let’s Talk Cars, it’s all about the test drive. Which is how we’ve been spending our summer vacations. We’ve compiled a slew of new car reviews and walk arounds and test drives, and we’ve got the first three for you this week – the new Dodge Caliber, the controversial Nissan Quest and the not-ready-for-the-American-marketplace Mitsubishi “i”.

First, VehicleVoice correspondent David Barrett takes a bright orange Caliber for a spin, and finds some surprising goodies on the inside.

Next, host Cameron Barrett introduces you to our new review segment, Rev It Up – with 90-seconds on the Nissan Quest, perhaps the most controversial a minivan can get. We review the 2006 Quest just prior to its replacement by the 2007 model with a less controversial interior design.

And finally, the Let’s Talk Cars’ crew got a peek at a car that isn’t even for sale here in the U.S., and will never be. They say big things come in small packages, and if that’s true, the Mitsubishi “i” is defintely the next big thing!

Show Rundown
00:52 The new Dodge Caliber: David Barrett, VehicleVoice contributor
12:01 Nissan Quest: Cameron Barrett, Let’s Talk Cars’ Host
13:57 Mitsubishi “i”: Cameron Barrett, Let’s Talk Cars’ Host


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Let's Talk Cars: Introducing the Ideal Vehicle Awards, Mitsubishi Endeavor's Facelift and the Suzuki Baby Seat Test

Welcome to Let’s Talk Cars

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This week on Let’s Talk Cars, from AutoPacific, a whole new slew of award-winning vehicles, plus a fresh look at the Mitsubishi Endeavor, and will the Suzuki Grand Vitara survive the dreaded baby car seat test!

First, “Let’s Talk Cars” host Cameron Barrett chats up AutoPacific’s newest analyst Keagan Patrick about the IVAs – that’s the Ideal Vehicle Awards. Being new, Keegan didn’t know enough to run in the other direction when he saw the Let’s Talk Cars crew bearing down on him. Thanks for the interview, Keagan!

Next, VehicleVoice correspondent David Barrett takes the Mitsubishi Endeavor – winner of the AutoPacific Vehicle Satisfaction Award for Premium Mid-Size Sport Utilities – out for a test drive and interviews Mitsubishi stylist Robert Burns. Robert was responsible for Endeavor’s 2006 facelift.

And finally, we ambushed a young family, handed over Suzuki’s Grand Vitara – winner of AutoPacific’s Vehicle Satisfaction Award for its class, and asked them to get their baby seat in and out of this compact SUV. Oh yeah, and then we asked if they could get their baby in and out of it. See how baby Elijah held up in this unique test drive.

Show Rundown
00:59 AutoPacific’s Ideal Vehicle Awards: Cameron Barrett, Let’s Talk Cars Host, and Keagan Patrick, AutoPacific Analyst
05:08 Mitsubishi Endeavor: David Barrett, VehicleVoice contributor and Robert Burns, Mitsubishi Designer
14:16 Suzuki Grand Vitara: Rich, Johanna and Elijah Buecheler


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Mitsubishi Endeavor Wins AutoPacific 2006 Vehicle Satisfaction Award for Premium Mid-Size Sport Utility Vehicles

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Mitsubishi Endeavor won its first AutoPacific VSA when it was launched in 2004 and repeats in 2006. Endeavor’s 5-passenger interior package gives good spaciousness to front and rear passengers without the compromises often made by SUVs trying to shoehorn 7-people into the space designed for five. Endeavor has good performance and driving dynamics. While Endeavor’s somewhat controversial styling may limit its sales, clearly, once a person has made the commitment, the Endeavor clearly provides what they want.


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Mitsubishi Raider Wins AutoPacific 2006 Vehicle Satisfaction Award for Compact Pickups

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The all new Mitsubishi Raider is the top rated Compact Pickup. Maybe that is a misnomer because Raider is clearly Mid-Size and is the only Japanese-brand Compact Pickup available with a V8 engine. Raider is a derivative of the Dodge Dakota but with more aggressive styling. Styling makes the Raider a love it or hate it proposition which actually is good for a niche vehicle in a lower volume brand. Raider owners, having made a commitment to the new Mitsubishi entry, are very satisfied with their vehicle rating Raider tops in the AutoPacific 2006 Vehicle Satisfaction Awards. Mitsubishi’s long warranty helps, and with its Dodge base, Raider is a downright good truck.


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2007 Mitsubishi Outlander Adds Two Cylinders and Two Seats

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November Sales for Updated Outlander
Mitsubishi is celebrating twenty-five years in the States, as well as giving its lineup a boost for the 2007 model year. The first-generation Mitsubishi Outlander was introduced for the 2003 model year, but its lack of a third row and V6 engine is being addressed for the 2007 model year. The all-new Outlander was unveiled to the North American public at the 2006 New York auto show, though it has been on sale in Japan for several months. VehicleVoice and AutoPacific correspondents were at the show to take a first look. The new Outlander has a grown-up look compared with the first version. With the 2007MY, Outlander takes a less-chunky look with better integrated bumpers and a cleaner, more purposeful front end.

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Mitsubishi’s second take on a small, car-based SUV should be more competitive in the States and help to reverse the sales crash experienced by the first Outlander. Its best sales year was 2003, when just over 34,000 units were sold. By 2005, however, sales had fallen below 12,000 units. Mitsubishi needs this new Outlander to be more successful, and to be able to maintain its success, and therefore Outlander needed its improved looks, extra seats, and updated powertrain.
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Schembri and Killen – American Marketing Management Out at Mitsubishi

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Editors NOTE: Since this was written, Dave Schembri has landed at Roger Penski’s smart operations in the USA. Schembri had been head of smart at Mercedes-Benz USA prior to joining MMNA. Wayne Killen joined Hyundai Motor America as Director of Product Planning in early 2007.
Mitsubishi Motors North America announced on Friday, February 17, that Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing David Schembri and Vice President of Marketing Wayne Killen had resigned from the Company. In a statement by Mitsubishi, “Both left to pursue other opportunities.”
The former Mitsubishi marketing duo joined Mitsubishi at a time when sales were off drastically from prior years and no rebound in sight. Just stabilizing losses and rebuilding from a lower base of sales may have been considered a success, but even after a year with Dave Schembri running Sales and Marketing the Titanic couldn’t be turned.
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Schembri joined Mitsubishi Motors North America in February 2005 after serving as the chief of the Maybach brand at Mercedes-Benz USA and then head of its still-born smart division. With the demise of smart’s efforts in the USA shortly following the 2005 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Schembri moved westward to Mitsubishi headquarters in Cypress, California.
Wayne Killen, brand manager for the ill-advised Maybach brand at MBUSA joined Schembri at Mitsubishi in August 2005 as Vice President of Marketing. Working for Mitsubishi Motor Sales of America early in his career (1987 – 1989), Killen had most recently spent ten years at Mercedes-Benz USA. At MMNA, Killen was responsible for advertising, brand experience marketing, product and marketing public relations and product strategy.
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During their tenure at MMNA, Schembri and Killen launched the 2005 Mitsubishi Eclipse and Mitsubishi Raider pickup and had just completed the public introduction of the soon-on-sale Eclipse Spyder.
The duties of Schembri and Killen are beeing handled by Hiroshi Harunari. Harunari has bee co-Chief Operating Officer of Mitsubishi Motors North America since January 2006. Rich Gilligan, former head of Mitsubishi’s manufacturing operations in Normal Illinois continues as the other co-COO.
These moves at Mitsubishi demonstrate the level of exposure senior managers take at some import-brand distributors. Last Fall, Peter Butterfield was ousted from his position as head of Kia Motors of America. In January, after a very confident presentation at the 2006 North American Auto Show in Detroit, Bob Cosmai fell at Hyundai Motor America. While Schembri and Killen had not yet been able to stabilize MMNA’s fortunes in the USA, Butterfield and Cosmai were managing companies that have healthy growth and prospects.


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Fresh Face for 2007 Mitsubishi Galant

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Ralliart Leads Facelift
Mitsubishi has given its largest sedan a bit of a refresh for the 2007 model year and previewed the updates at the 2006 Chicago Auto Show, ahead of summer 2006 sales. These relatively minor changes bring along with them a 258HP 3.8L V6 Ralliart model as well as a new five-speed automatic transmission. VehicleVoice and AutoPacific were at the show to take a first look. At first glance, the Galant Ralliart adopts a more grown-up look while retaining the aggressive stance the performance model in the range needs.

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Changes to all 2007 model year Galant models include a new grille with a more distinctive chrome surround, a new front fascia and bumper, and a new rear bumper fascia, but the Ralliart steps it up a notch. The Ralliart takes the sporting personality and leaves the GTS model to take a more luxury-oriented personality. The LS model of the past few years is dropped, and DS and ES remain as the four-cylinder-engine volume cars, but the ES can be dressed up to look like the V6-equipped GTS. Though there are changes for all 2007 Galant models, only the Ralliart was the star of this show.
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