A Case for Mitsubishi to Bring the Triton to the US
We wouldn’t really know it here in the US, but overseas Mitsubishi Motors is a major producer of pickup trucks. The truck in question is the Mitsubishi Triton. It’s a compact pickup, putting it in about the same market as the Chevy Colorado. Mitsubishi recently teased a new generation of the Triton with a low-resolution, shadowy image, which prompted me to wonder, why isn’t Mitsubishi making those over here? Let’s weigh the pros and cons.
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Reasons for making them in the US
Interest in pickup trucks is at a long-time high in the United States, including compact pickups. The Toyota Tacoma and twin GM vehicles the Colorado and Canyon each sell into six figures each year and demand is robust enough that Ford is bringing back the Ranger. Meanwhile, rumors fly that Fiat-Chrysler may jump in with a Jeep truck or Ram-badged pickup.
Also, Mitsubishi’s dealers want a pickup truck to sell to people. In a press event last year, executive vice president and COO of Mitsubishi North America Don Swearingen said that a pickup truck was pretty much at the top of Mitsubishi dealers’ shopping lists.
Mitsubishi is one of the smaller automakers in the US. Back in March, it actually had one of its best sales months in over a decade, and it only sold 14,000 vehicles. If a Mitsubishi pickup could make even a fraction of the Colorado or Tacoma’s sales, it would be a significant boost to the brand’s sales numbers.
Reasons against making them in the US
The Chicken Tax
The number one problem with bringing a small pickup truck is an old reason, reaching back to President Lyndon Johnson. In response to European taxes on chicken from the US, the president levied heavy tariffs on a few different imported goods including small imported pickup trucks. The small pickup tax remains on the books and Mitsubishi has no US manufacturing facilities. So, to bring the Triton to the US Mitsubishi would have to either significantly mark up their trucks or leverage their relationship with Mitsubishi to somehow assemble the trucks inside the US.
If Mitsubishi got around the Chicken Tax, it would still need to pay for the long certification process for US safety and emissions regulations, and make sure it was made to satisfy American drivers’ needs.
All in all, I personally think that Mitsubishi needs a boost. Simultaneously revealing a new generation of Triton overseas and bringing it to the US would help the recovering automaker to steal some of the Chevy Colorado and Toyota Tacoma’s lunch.
News Source: Autoblog