In a country where pickup trucks dominate the roads, you may be one of those who wonder why Mitsubishi did not attempt to sell larger yet more profitable vehicles. It has always been a mystery for automotive enthusiasts, especially since pickup trucks are top-rated in America.
Mitsubishi has been in the auto business for a long time. The brand has not focused on venturing into pickup trucks, even though it is known for making some great cars on the market. But things may be changing soon for the Asian automaker, as there are spied photos of a pickup truck drive testing in Colorado. Are we finally seeing Mitsubishi entering the truck market?
According to some reports, the pickup truck captured in the spied photo is an upcoming model from Mitsubishi. It could also indicate that Mitsubishi is preparing to rejoin America’s profitable pickup truck market. In the picture that circulated online, they did not use tonneau covers but something like an automotive-type fabric to conceal the vehicle.
In some markets outside America, Mitsubishi equips its pickup trucks with a diesel engine, but a 2.4-liter gas engine is also available. Depending on the engine pairing, it has five and six-speed auto transmissions. Could it be undergoing high-altitude testing for the next-generation Mitsubishi L200?
The camouflaged prototype has been pictured cruising around Colorado. The vehicle’s front end looks similar to other models in the automaker’s lineup. It may have design hints from the Triton and the L200, which are not even sold in the United States.
Are they testing the truck for off-road capability?
As part of the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance, the brand may be getting support from US-based engineering teams. The camouflaged prototype pickup truck was driven through the Rocky Mountains of Colorado.
If you’re curious why it is being tested in that location, the vehicle underwent a high-altitude test. The weather was fine in Colorado. It also has good roads and manageable conditions, so they tested the truck’s development cycle. Suppose it will be officially released in the American market. It will be a nice rig for weekend adventures. You can add nerf bars, mud tires, and other truck accessories to make it more off-road-worthy.
According to Andre Smirnov of The Fast Lane, the truck caught on camera in Colorado almost looked like a Frontier at a distance. But when he pulled up closer, he said it looked like a vehicle made by Nissan. As a matter of fact, Chrysler and Mitsubishi used to be good pals, so there are some resemblances between the vehicles they produce.
By comparison, Mitsubishi uses leaf springs for its vehicles. The prototype spied in Colorado also has leaf springs. And when you say leaf spring, the Nissan Frontier for the U.S. market also rocks the suspension feature. Chrysler is still reserved on Dakota’s revival, but if rumors were true, it would be financially viable for the company to use the Gladiator instead of the Triton.
It is possible since Ram’s parent, Stellantis, used the other compact truck platform. If that’s the case, the truck may get a specialized chassis of a Jeep Gladiator pickup. However, it will be different from the popular vehicle since the rear end has a five-link setup. Ram made a multi-link design that served as inspiration for the Gladiator, but it isn’t available with the Jeep truck’s four-corner air suspension.
Smirnov, Fast Lane’s managing editor, speculated that the spied Mitsubishi truck might be the future of the Dakota mid-size pickup. Some people speculated that the pickup to be sold in America could be a venture between Mitsubishi and Ram. The two automakers may be collaborating for a new Dakota. The joint project could be a fusion of the Dodge Dakota and the Asian automaker’s Raider.
Why Mitsubishi ditched the truck market
Back then, Mitsubishi used to compete with other automotive rivals. However, the Japanese automaker does not sell their trucks using its name, so they were sold in America under a different badge. The Dodge Ram 50, Dodge D-50, and Plymouth Arrow were vehicles produced by Mitsubishi under a particular badge.
Buying a Mitsubishi pickup truck in America is complicated, especially at the moment because of the Chicken Tax. The American government levies a 25% tariff on imported goods such as potato starch, brandy, dextrin, and more. Unfortunately, it also applies to cars built outside America, and that includes Mitsubishi Triton.
The 25% tax simply makes the truck too expensive to compete in the compact pickup segment. If the Japanese automaker built a truck manufacturing facility in America, the Chicken Tax would not apply. Moreover, it could sell in the country at a competitive price.
Mitsubishi sells affordable trucks on the global market, and frankly, it would be great if the company included the United States. Although some traditional pickup buyers might get excited to see a truck from Mitsubishi, it might not win them all. The Japanese automaker must make a move like Ford did with the Maverick — by creating an affordable yet well-designed compact pickup that can attract buyers who have never owned one.
Due to complicated automotive regulations implemented, Mitsubishi has not sold a truck in the United States since 2009. Now, the Japanese carmaker would have a lot to work to keep up with the American companies leading the market, such as Ford, GM, and Stellantis.
Time to re-enter the U.S. truck market
It has been some time since Mitsubishi sold a truck in the US. However, that does not mean it has abandoned the pickup segment altogether. It currently sells the L200 truck in the UK, Europe, and other countries, but stateside — it may not find its way. Apparently, the automaker is working on a new platform for its truck, and it has the potential to come to America.
As the list of trucks in the American market grows exponentially, especially with the transition to electric vehicles, it may be high time for Mitsubishi to re-enter the scene. A Mitsubishi truck could strike while the iron is hot, as the small truck market has been heating up over the years. Only a few truck models compete in the compact truck segment.
Only time will tell if Mitsubishi’s pickup truck will make it back to the United States. The market is certainly there, and the company could make a significant impact with the right truck.