Mitsubishi Motors Corp. says Shinichi Kurihara will succeed Hiroshi Harunari as CEO and president of Mitsubishi Motors North America.

The change is effective Jan. 1.

Harunari has spent three years at MMNA, arriving as the U.S. sales arm was in the midst of a restructuring following a period of plummeting sales.

“Harunari made strides improving dealer communication and vastly helped instill a culture of great fiscal responsibility,” MMC says in a statement, adding he presided over the launch of the Eclipse Spyder sports car, Outlander cross/utility vehicle and Lancer compact car during his tenure at MMNA.

Kurihara’s turn at the helm of MMNA will mark his third position in the U.S. From 1984-1988 he held a position in product planning and marketing, and from 1996-2001 he was senior vice president-product strategy.

Most recently, Kurihara was senior executive officer-Product Strategy Office for MMC.

“Kurihara intends to capitalize on Mitsubishi’s core brand attributes that strongly differentiate Mitsubsihi in the marketplace,” the auto maker says in a statement, adding he will maintain the success of the Lancer and Outlander while helping “energize (the) Galant, Eclipse and forthcoming products.”

Mitsubishi’s U.S. sales were down 23.9% through October to 87,591 units, Ward’s data shows.