News - Mitsubishi
Mitsubishi 'must change or die' in Oz
New beginning: MMAL boss Mutsuhiro Oshikiri says Mitsubishi must change the way it does business in Australia to survive.
New boss lays down law on new focus to drag Mitsubishi Australia back from brink
23 August 2012
MITSUBISHI'S new Japanese boss in Australia has foreshadowed a shake-up of the company in Australia, saying it needs to change its culture or die.
President and CEO Mutsuhiro Oshikiri said his aim was to raise the company's Australian market share from 6.0 per cent to 8.0 per cent to help dealers become more viable against increasingly tough competition.
Speaking frankly to journalists in Brisbane ahead of a Mitsubishi vehicle launch and dealer meeting in the same city this week, Mr Oshikiri said Mitsubishi Motors Australia Limited (MMAL) would shift more sales and marketing responsibility from head office in Adelaide to other state centres, especially the “real world” of Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.
While he said administrative tasks could stay in Adelaide, more authority for sales operations had to be given to staff on the ground where most of the vehicles were sold.
“We have to change the company or we will not survive,” he said.
Mr Oshikiri knows the market well after spending two previous stints here in the 1980s and early 2000s, and was also Tokyo head office manager for Australia for several years.
Left: Mitsubishi Motors Australia Limited president and CEO Mutsuhiro Oshikiri.
He was sent back Down Under two months ago to help fix the company, direct from his previous posting on the Caribbean island of Puerto Rico which he had expected to be his last posting before retirement.
He said his key goal in Australia would be to raise sales throughput for each dealer to make them profitable and more viable.
He said the dealer network had invested $1.5 billion in facilities in Australia, and to sustain such an investment, Mitsubishi volume had to be increased from 60,000 units a year to 80,000.
“We have to do more to improve (showroom) traffic,” he said.
“How to support the dealers is our entire job. To do this, we have to change the mentality of the company.”
So far this year, Mitsubishi sales have slipped 5.2 per cent against industry growth of almost 10 per cent, and its market share has slipped to 5.4 per cent – down from 6.3 per cent last year.
Last month, Mitsubishi monthly share slumped to 4.0 per cent – its worst in memory – taking it down to seventh place on the sales ladder, behind the fast-rising Volkswagen.
Mr Oshikiro is no stranger to putting out fires in Australia.
When he was first here as a young engineer in the 1980s, his job was to organise the rebuilding of TN Magna automatic transmissions that were suffering serious failures – a problem that tainted the vehicle for years to come.
In the early 2000s, he returned to help restructure the company after the collapse of its manufacturing operations.
One of the first decisions of Mr Oshikiri this time has been to shift monthly dealer meetings with Mitsubishi executives away from Adelaide to other cities around Australia, starting in Brisbane this week.
He said he wanted Mitsubishi to taker a wider view of Australia, which was made up of many markets, not one large one.
“You can't decide what is best for Perth from the other side of the country,” he said. “Only people who live there can decide what works in Perth.”
Mr Oshikiri, who has spent stints in markets as diverse as China and Thailand, said he had used his dealer-focussed strategy to improve Mitsubishi sales in previous postings in Thailand and Puerto Rico.
He said customers did not necessarily believe a Mitsubishi advertisement, but they would trust a good dealer.
“People will buy a car from a healthy dealership,” he said. “We must do everything to support that.”
Mitsubishi has lost about a third of its market share in Australia in a decade, never recovering from the loss of its locally made Magna and most of its other passenger car entrants and becoming heavily reliant on Lancer, Triton and its small SUVs, Outlander and ASX.
This month, however, a facelifted ASX and Lancer will provide some relief for the company and its struggling dealers.