Mitsubishi loses ground in 2010 with only small sales

Mitsubishi eked out a small sales gain as the car market began to recover in 2010. But by selling only 1,797 more vehicles in 2010 than 2009, the lower-tier auto retailer climbed only 3.1 percent. The U.S. auto market as a whole improved by 11.1 percent in 2010.

Mitsubishi Motors North America enters 2011 with some reason for optimism. The company reports that its vehicle sales for the final month of the year grew by 12 percent compared to December 2009.

That's better than the company did for the year as a whole. For 2010, Mitsubishi's 12-month sales tally came to 55,683 units, or 3.1 percent more than the 53,986 vehicles sold during 2009. Although Mitsubishi finished in positive territory, it's performance lagged the U.S. vehicle market as a whole, which grew by 11.1 percent for the year.

When announcing its year-end results, Mitsubishi pointed to its December sales gain, plus a number of other encouraging signs. They included:

Popularity of the all-new Outlander Sport continued to grow at a rapid pace, the company announced. In December 2010, sales of the new model increased more than 40 percent from November.

Outlander sales increased by about a fifth for 2010, compared to 2009.

Lancer sales reached their highest December total since 2007.

Lancer Evolution sales increased more than 95 percent for the month of December, and reached their highest single-month level since April 2009.

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