Mitsubishi i-MiEV

Mitsubishi i-MiEV

Amidst the catastrophic North American automotive market plunge, some companies are suffering more than others.

One company in particular trouble is the Japanese automaker Mitsubishi.  Its sales have declined 51% so far in 2009 extending a slump that dates back to 2003.

The company "should withdraw from the U.S.," said Yuuki Sakurai, CEO of Japan-based Fukoku Capital Management Inc.  “It’s time for them to decide whether they pay a high price to continue business there or stop the bleeding.”

They rank among the bottom 5 of 35 US brands tracked.

Mitsubishi's plant in Normal Illinois is only running at 10% capacity and may soon have to shut down, production there has declined 83% this year.

Despite the fact that current Mitsubishi models aren't exactly hot sellers in the US market, the company has high hopes for their upcoming pure battery electric car.  The i-MiEV has already started mass production in Japan where it goes on sale this month.  The five seater will retail for $49,000 and has a 100 mile driving range.

Mitsubishi Motors president Osamu Masuko says “We will never give up the U.S. market. The U.S. will return to being the world’s biggest market.”

As much as we'd love to be sure the US market gets its fair share of electric cars next year, if demand for these cars from the general population turns out to be low, the i-MiEV might not be enough to save the company's US operations. And then it might be possible that Mitsubishi might have to go and bring its electric car with it.

Source (Bloomberg)