July 17, 2002

Mitsubishi reorganizes North American operations – Canadian becomes CEO

Las Vegas, Nevada – Mitsubishi Motors Corporation (MMC) announced
plans to completely consolidate its North American sales, manufacturing, finance, and research and development operations into a new single organization. The company will be called Mitsubishi Motors North America (MMNA) and will be led by a new management structure composed of North American executives who have recently overseen a complete overhaul of the company’s operations in the United States and led the Japanese automaker to three consecutive years of record U.S. sales. Mitsubishi Motors expects MMNA to be fully established by the first quarter of 2003.

Pierre Gagnon, a Canadian, will be promoted to president and CEO of MMNA and he will be responsible for leading all Mitsubishi Motors operations in the United States, Canada, Mexico and Puerto Rico. Gagnon becomes the first ever North American to lead Mitsubishi Motors in North America since the company was established in the United States in 1981. In his new position, Gagnon will also lead an intense focus on capturing market share and enhancing the customer experience throughout North America.

Gagnon previously served as president and COO of Mitsubishi Motor Sales of America, Inc. (MMSA), the sales and marketing organization for Mitsubishi-brand vehicles in the United States. Under Gagnon’s leadership, MMSA has established a strong brand identity that connects well with a growing population of young consumers. Sales have increased 69 per cent over three years, contributing to three consecutive years of record MMSA profits as well.

Born and raised in Timmins, Ontario, Gagnon spent 18 years in the Canadian automotive industry.

Mitsubishi Motors also announced the promotion of Oshawa, Ontario native Greg O’Neill to president and COO of MMSA. O’Neill replaces Gagnon and assumes responsibility for all sales and marketing functions within the new organization. O’Neill previously served as executive vice president and general manager of MMSA, and played a critical role in driving the company’s brand strategy, implementing new technologies at the corporate level and expanding Mitsubishi’s U.S. dealer network. In the newly created company MMNA, O’Neill will assume the position of executive vice president and COO of the Marketing and Sales division.

Randy Sears continues as president of Mitsubishi Motor Sales of Canada, now reporting to Greg O’Neill. Sears returns home to Canada to lead the Canadian operations having spent several successful years as a Director of the North Central Region, a 12 state region in the Mitsubishi Motor Sales of America network. Sears began his automotive career in Canada just over 26 years ago.

“North America has emerged as a thriving market for Mitsubishi
Motors and is now recognized in Japan as an important target for furthergrowth and investment,” said Rolf Eckrodt, current president and CEO of MMC. “Creating one single, unified organization allows for better synergies with Mitsubishi’s global operations and reflects the recent success and the enormous potential we see in this critical region.”

Steve Torok, executive vice president of international car operations for MMC, noted that Mitsubishi Motors is preparing for an unprecedented wave of new product launches in North America, introducing seven new products over the next three years, and that the company’s plans to expand into Canada are well ahead of schedule. Through its alliance with DaimlerChrysler, Mitsubishi is also developing plans to begin selling cars in Mexico in early 2003.

“We’ve made tremendous strides over the past several years,” Torok added. “But we’ve really just begun. Our next phase of growth is coming on fast and we need to be prepared with a focused organization that can move quickly and react without hesitation.”

Rich Gilligan, currently president and COO of Mitsubishi Motor Manufacturing of America, Inc. (MMMA), will retain his current responsibilities as head of Mitsubishi’s North American manufacturing operation, and will assume an expanded role for quality and procurement throughout North America. Gilligan will also join Mitsubishi’s Global Production Integration team.

Under Gilligan’s leadership, MMMA’s Normal, Ill., assembly plant broke into the top three in assembly productivity among North American automobile manufacturers, delivered improved quality, secured the 2002 Harbour Report North America “most improved” ranking for the third consecutive year, and has emerged as a highly profitable company. In MMNA, Gilligan will assume the position of executive vice president and COO of the Manufacturing and Procurement division.

Mitsubishi Motors identified several important benefits the new consolidated organization will provide as the company enters the next phase of its North American growth strategy. The new company’s structure will increase Mitsubishi Motors’ competitive advantage in North America by integrating all aspects of the company’s operations, from engineering and design to distribution and marketing strategies and will ensure development and delivery of the best products to meet market demands.

Other benefits include:

  • Streamline business planning processes
  • Create one North American legal entity for financial reporting purposes to better reflect overall investment and profit picture
  • Leverage support functions and related resources more effectively across the organizations
  • Eliminate non-value added inter-corporate pricing negotiations and related processes
  • Enable more strategic long-term planning and product development

The movement toward this new organization began in June 2000 with consolidation of support functions between MMSA and MMMA.

Mitsubishi Motors’ North American operations currently include: Mitsubishi Motor Sales of America, Inc. (MMSA), based in Cypress, CA, the sole distributor of Mitsubishi-badged cars and light trucks in the American market through a network of more than 580 dealers in 50 states; Mitsubishi Motor Credit of America (MMCA) a wholly-owned finance subsidiary of MMSA; Mitsubishi Motor Manufacturing of America, Inc. (MMMA), located in Normal, IL, produces the Mitsubishi Galant, Eclipse and Eclipse Spyder, and two models for DaimlerChrysler Corporation; Mitsubishi Motors Research and Development of America, Inc. (MRDA), located in Ann Arbor, MI, and Cypress, CA, is responsible for the design and engineering of Mitsubishi products for the American market; and Mitsubishi Motors America, Inc. (MMA), currently based in Southfield, MI, oversees parts procurement for MMC and coordinates government relations in the United States.

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