SAN FRANCISCO – Mitsubishi Motors North America Inc. this fall will unveil an overhauled retail website intended to improve customer links to U.S. dealerships, while it works to better promote the poor-selling compact Raider pickup.

Dan Kuhnert, MMNA’s senior vice president-sales, says the new website will be more user friendly, including links for Spanish-speaking customers and an easy tie to local dealerships.

One Mitsubishi product in need of dealer help is the Raider pickup, which has sold only 5,948 units since it was introduced nearly a year ago, according to Ward’s data.

MMNA will continue the pickup, a rebadged version of the Dodge Dakota, but it is going to take some time to find the right content formula for the fledgling pickup, Kuhnert tells Ward’s at a recent event here to launch the redesigned ’07 Outlander cross/utility.

“We came out with (the Raider) with a lot of different configurations,” he says. “For the ’07 model year, we’re going to reduce the configurations and look, on an individual-dealer basis, for ways to promote the vehicle more aggressively.”

Mitsubishi’s total U.S. sales through July fell 9.5% compared with year-ago. However, the Eclipse Spyder is outselling the brand’s other models, with 19,534 deliveries in the first seven months – a 53.4% improvement from like-2005.

As fuel prices continue to climb, the auto maker continues to mull the best strategy for bringing a subcompact to the U.S., including its B-segment Colt sold in Europe. It also is considering its A-segment ‘i’ minicar currently sold only in Japan.

Bringing the “i” here would require widening the frame and providing other safety enhancements to meet domestic crash tests, officials say, while noting no decision has been made.

“It has a lot to do with timing, what price we could bring the vehicle over at and if we can configure the vehicle to something the U.S. market would be attracted toward,” Kunhert says.

For now, he says Mitsubishi remains focused on three key launches over the next year and a half. These include the Outlander, Lancer and Lancer Evo replacement.

The auto maker also will continue to introduce mid-cycle special editions with more powerful engines, such as the Galant Ralliart and Lancer SE, a strategy Kunhert says has proven effective.

However, Mitsubishi will not re-introduce the near-luxury Diamante, its largest sedan before it was dropped from the lineup in 2004, Dan Sims, general manager at Mitsubishi’s Design Studio in Cyrpess, CA, tells Ward’s.

“If we were to do a Diamante with the Galant (already in the segment), it would push it into the $40,000 range,” Sims says. “It doesn’t make business sense.”

scanderson@wardsauto.com