When the Mitsubishi Outlander was named Victory & Reseda's Vehicle of the Year award last month, I did not anticipate everything that happened after the announcement.
It was something that you always dreamed of as a media outlet. You want to see how much resonance and engagement the award would receive across social media. You would hope that you get more than just a mere acknowledgement from the winning company. Yet, I wasn’t expecting the type of response from Mitsubishi Motors North America and its dealership network.
It began with a discussion with the company’s public relations people. They wanted to know about the award, its methodology, and reasoning behind its win. In a matter of days, Mitsubishi published a press release announcing its #VOTY2021 win.
That surprised me. In fact, that never happened in the fifteen years of this award.
It was followed by an e-mail from Mitsubishi’s social media agency. They asked about assets they could share about #VOTY2021. I pointed to a few. Sure enough, their social media channels announced the award from their press release.
Over this time, the postings about the award – from both V&R and Mitsubishi’s social media channels were reshared and posted across several other accounts. Dealerships across the USA and Canada broadcasted the Outlander’s #VOTY2021 win.
That I was not prepared for. That even shocked me even more.
I began to wonder whether the Mitsubishi Outlander was the right #VOTY at the right time in V&R’s tenth year? It could be. It was, after all, a product of the assistance that Nissan gave Mitsubishi in order to create a new SUV for families. One with a standard three-row seating configuration – the only one in its class – wrapped in a very advanced design, and high quality interior.
The beautiful thing about #VOTY is the process. After it has been announced, then the actual award is made. Once that is done, then comes the arrangement to get the award over to the manufacturer. Once it is handed off, then it’s on to the next #VOTY.
This time around, there’s a lot more engagement and response it to than ever. This would make the hand-off even more celebratory.
The timing for this #VOTY seems right. Mitsubishi just kicked off their 40th anniversary of their US operations. That also brought back some memories of the first time Mitsubishi was sold in this country under its own badge.
Sometime towards the end of 1981 – perhaps after the first of 1982 – Mitsubishi opened up its first dealership in my birthplace of the San Fernando Valley. Miller Imports was a Datsun (later Nissan) dealer in Van Nuys. Their Mitsubishi showroom was part of an old used car lot Miller owned and was able to hold one Starion, with only a few sales staff. I'm not sure at the time, but I believe if you needed to service your new Mitsubishi, you had to go to the Datsun/Nissan store up the street.
One evening, I walked onto the lot and I noticed a selection of Starions, Cordias and Tredias – the first three models sold under the Mitsubishi badge in the United States. The place looked magical.
The year 1982 was a magical year for Mitsubishi. It kicked off the brand's trajectory in this country. And we saw strength and growth as the lineup grew, adding the Montero SUV, the Mighty Max pickup truck, the Mirage subcompact, the Galant, which was a larger car than the Tredia. From there the entire lineup evolved, with each new generation providing us with new excitement under the three-diamond badge.
Of course, the brand had it hiccups. The zero-for-zero-for-zero finance scheme did not work out the way that Mitsubishi anticipated. They gave new customers a break for about a year of car payments. When it came to year number two, its customers figured, "Oh, we don't have to pay anything, period.” Therefore, the financing created a major financial catastrophe for Mitsubishi Motors North America. Beyond the repossession of vehicles that were never paid for, Mitsubishi experienced severe losses of sales that almost doomed a brand in this country.
Since then, the brand experienced a gradual comeback. In recent years, Nissan gave Mitsubishi a 33% boost from Nissan to help right the ship. Now, Mitsubishi is delivering on a product that customers have been asking for.
However, the newest Outlander became the most important vehicle to come along in the past couple of decades. Customers found that they truly needed the Outlander more than ever. Offering it with a standard three-row configuration helps in creating more choice for the consumer. This is one of the many reasons why the Mitsubishi Outlander won #VOTY2021.
Yet, I am happy to see that there are dealers out there that care about their lineup. They have taken the time to promote and sell them by adding the fact that it is #VOTY2021. When you have a trophy winner on your lot, you have to do whatever you can in order to move those units, even when you have the challenges of supply chain issues and so forth.
Once again, Victory & Reseda congratulates Mitsubishi Motors North America on winning #VOTY2021. We also thank you and your dealers for picking up our story and bring it home to your customers. Soon, we'll be able to formally award #VOTY2021 to Mitsubishi, whether it's in person down at their headquarters in Franklin, Tennessee or some other way.
All photos by Randy Stern