Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek. 

There are only two things I know about cars.

One is that they're often more trouble than they're worth. 

The other, and this I've learned after much entirely unscientific research, is that anyone who drives a white Porsche Cayman or a gray Toyota Prius should be permanently consigned to a horse and cart. 

Yet this week I ran into a piece of information that made me wonder about cars, their owners and whether I unconsciously eliminate certain brands from my eyes.

You see, I wafted down the list of U.S. car sales for 2018.

I even read the sumnmary report, which said that passenger car sales were down 10.5 percent, truck and SUV sales were up 7.2 percent, Ford and General Motors sold fewer cars -- down 8.8 percent and 3.7 percent respectively -- and that no one in their right minds would buy a Mini.

Well, it didn't quite say that last part.

It merely sniffed that Mini's share fluctuation, year-on-year, was minus-39 percent.

And then there was the figure of 118,074.

This represented a year-on-year sales growth of 13.9 percent for a car brand that, well, it was the last one I expected. 

The brand was Mitsubishi.

I confess to being a touch flummoxed. I didn't know Mitsubishi still sold cars. I certainly couldn't point to one on the freeway and confidently mutter: "Oh, look. There goes a Mitsubishi, er, WhateverItsCalled."

Please, I'll happily parade my ignorance with pride, but I rather fancied the Japanese carmaker was a little on the outs.

I'm truly not a car snob. I've owned Nissans for years and really like them. When I lived in Europe and company cars came with your salary package, I took the money or let them give me any old jalopy left behind by someone who'd been fired.

Yet here is data that tells me Mitsubishi sold more cars in the U.S. last year than Volvo, Land Rover, Lincoln and, yes, Mini.

How could this be?

Fortunately, I wasn't the only one to be a touch surprised. 

The Drive's Will Sabel Courtney wondered how "a brand with effectively zero notable vehicles" managed to sell so many cars.

It seems that Mitsubishi somehow anticipated the rise of the SUV and the CUV -- the Crossover Utility Vehicle -- before anyone else.

Moreover, the automaker produced cars that were relatively inexpensive.

Ergo, 39,153 people flocked to the Mitsubishi Outlander Sport last year, a car that Courtney says "lacks pretty much any character, individuality, or other distinguishing trait."

There is, quite naturally, a lesson in all this. 

These cars offer the precise value and attributes many consumers desired.

Understanding your market, anticipating it and reacting to its needs can bring enormous dividends, even if many people consider you forgettable.

Go on, name a single Mitsubishi car. Other than the Outlander Sport that you just heard about 9 seconds ago.

See?

Published on: Jan 19, 2019
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.