Car News

Mitsubishi Looks to Pickup North American Sales

Japan's Mitsubishi wants in on North America's fast-growing pickup truck market, and will make good on that desire in 2024.

According to Wards Auto, Mitsu is in charge of developing a new body-on-frame truck platform that will underpin the next generation of its own pickup model (known as Triton or L200, depending on the market) and the Nissan Frontier. Nissan's next-gen Frontier is expected in 2021, suggesting to us that Mitsu's new truck architecture is closer to being ready for action than its pickup's planned 2024 arrival (as a 2025 model) would indicate.

Mitsu updated the Triton/L200 last year for the 2020 model year. However, that truck is probably too small to be competitive in North America, being 76 mm narrower and 155 mm shorter than the 2019 Ford Ranger, and riding on a 220-mm shorter wheelbase. Its engines are notably less potent than those offered by North America's current mid-size pickup makers: in Mexico, base models get a gas four-cylinder with 126 hp/143 lb-ft of torque, or a turbodiesel making 134 hp and 232 lb-ft.

While Mitsubishi may not be a household name among pickup customers, Wards says Mitsu's dealers are keen to have a truck model to offer their customers. When they get one, there's a chance it may offer a hybrid powertrain.

Mitsubishi North America's Chief Operating Officer, Mark Chaffin, alluded to Wards that the company will expand its range of hybrid vehicles to capitalize on the popularity of the 2019 Outlander PHEV plug-in hybrid model. In December, Mitsu announced it had sold more than 5,000 Outlander PHEV models in Canada in 2018, making it the country's best-selling plug-in hybrid vehicle.

There is a precedent for a hybrid pickup: GM offered its Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra with its two-mode hybrid powertrain from 2009 through 2013.

Hybrid or not, a Mitsubishi Triton would theoretically attract some attention in North America, thanks to the mid-size pickup segment's recent revitalization. That kicked off in 2015 with redesigned versions of the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon, followed by Toyota's 2016 redesign of its Tacoma. The Ford Ranger was the segment's most recent addition when it returned to Canada for 2019.