Mitsubishi's new European boss will reorganize the automaker's sales system, but not eliminate all independent distributors.
'We will continue with successful private distributors,' said Stefan Jacoby, Mitsubishi Motor Sales Europe's newly appointed CEO in Amsterdam.
Jacoby said he is more concerned with realigning distribution than changing individual dealers. For example, the current system that splits France three ways between Belgian and Spanish independent distributors and Mitsubishi should be changed within two months, he said. Germany may be rationalized within two weeks, he added.
The sales organization is a key part of Jacoby's goal to increase Mitsubishi volume, restore profitability and improve brand image. He has a comprehensive plan to revamp European operations and achieve financial breakeven by 2003 as part of Mitsubishi's global turnaround plan.
'Our cost of sales is too high,' Jacoby said. 'We should slash it from the current 30 to 36 percent [of total sales revenue] to below 30 percent. We intend to achieve this goal in all fields: marketing, logistics, model mix, distribution, dealer standards and in our own organization.'
But Jacoby won't change the current dealer network too much.
'Global rules of dealer scale and sales volume may not apply to our current dealers,' he said. 'I prefer to give our dealers the opportunity to win back sales lost in recent years. They are dedicated dealers.'
Jacoby said his mid-term objective for Mitsubishi is a 2 percent market share in Europe.
'We have to redefine our current model mix for Europe before the arrival of our future compact model in 2004,' he said. 'We need wagons in addition to our sedan range. Sport-utilities will play an important role because they are part of our heritage and add to our image. But the Pajero Pinin needs a diesel engine.'
Mitsubishi's 'Z-car' project is critical to its European future.
'We will return to our roots with our future compact model,' Jacoby said. 'It will be sporty and practical.'
The CZ2, one of two 'Z-car' concepts that Mitsubishi debuted at the Tokyo auto show, was created in the company's European studio in Trebur, Germany.
'The car expresses Mitsubishi's past, which was all about technical prowess,' said Olivier Boulay, Mitsubishi's new design director.
Boulay said he did not want to create a specific European design.
'Our strategy will be brand-oriented and it will express a Japanese style,' he said. 'The original 'Z-car' design concept was even too European. Our CZ2 concept features a more typical Mitsubishi front end.'
The CZ2 was not a pre-production model, but a study incorporating elements of both future three-door and five-door models.
* In a further example of appointing Europeans to senior posts, Mitsubishi Motor Sales Europe named Daniel Nacass head of communications in Amsterdam, a new position. Nacass previously worked for Chrysler Europe and Renault.