Mitsubishi to Focus on Small Cars; Uncertain Future for U.S Lineup

Mitsubishi’s current lineup in the United States is aging — fast. To curtail a trend of slipping sales, Mitsubishi will go on a product offensive over the next several years, focusing on small cars. However, it may come at the expense of its bread-and-butter 2010 models, which suffer from an uncertain future.

Here’s what we know about Mitsubishi’s future product lineup:


Outlander Sport: The last Mitsubishi SUV to wear the Sport moniker in the United States was the pickup-based Montero Sport. The new Outlander Sport, however, marks a shift in Mitsu’s thinking. A platform-mate of the Lancer and full-length Outlander, the Sport strikes a front pose akin to the Audi Q5’s, and is positioned to compete against the upcoming 2011 Nissan Juke. Powertrain combinations will be lifted from the Lancer lineup, but will only include a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 148 horsepower, paired with either a five-speed manual or continuously variable transmission. It will go on sale in the U.S. by the end of the year.

Outlander: Mitsubishi grafted a Lancer Evolution’s nose onto its midsize sport-ute for 2010, and won’t receive major updates until 2014 at the earliest. Unlike the Outlander Sport, the larger Outlander can be ordered with more than one engine; in top spec, the Outlander is offered with a 3.0-liter V-6 that produces 230 horsepower and 215 pound-feet of torque.

Lancer: The Lancer, and its stubby-bottomed Sportback sibling, are Mitsubishi’s best sellers in the U.S., and have moved just under 15,000 units from January through August. They aren’t set for a refresh for several more years.

On the way

I-MiEV: We’ve previewed the future of motoring after several days commuting with the i-MiEV, and we can’t say we’re disappointed. Mitsubishi currently has plans to sell the i-MiEV electric vehicle in the U.S. as early as the final months of 2010, and it has already been on sale in Japan since 2006. With a 63-horsepower electric motor, it’s not exactly fast, but it will give Mitsubishi solid footing among electric car enthusiasts in the U.S.

When the i-MiEV arrives in the U.S., Mitsubishi plans to widen the small car for the sake of crash testing and American attitudes. The larger, but still ovoid, i-MiEV will sticker for under $30,000 with government tax incentives included.

New small car: In the race to develop a global small car, Mitsubishi is a late entry. To make up for its timing, it has taken top priority among future products. It will likely be powered by a three-cylinder engine displacing no more than 1.3 liters, and no specific time frame has been set for its debut.


Galant, Eclipse/Spyder, Endeavor: Plans to develop new products at Mitsubishi’s plant in Normal, Ill., have been stalled, placing the future of the sedan, coupe, and SUV platform-mates in jeopardy. Slow sales and lack of competitive refreshes may signal the end for the triplets, as Mitsubishi focuses on global products. If refreshes are eventually scheduled, don’t expect new models before 2013.

Source: Automotive News (Subscription required)

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