Mitsubishi turns focus to small, global cars

Automotive News reports on Mitsubishi's new model plans.

Automotive News
3 min read
Wayne Cunningham/CNET
Mitsubishi ASX
The Mitsubishi ASX, seen here at this year's Geneva auto show, will go on sale in the United States this fall as the Outlander Sport. Wayne Cunningham/CNET

Major updates to Mitsubishi's products are on the back burner as the company concentrates on developing small cars that can be sold around the world.

That means the future is uncertain for the Galant, Endeavor, Eclipse, and Eclipse Spyder, which Mitsubishi builds in the United States.

A top priority is a global small car expected to go on sale here by the end of 2012. Until that debut, a source said, Mitsubishi plans no model changes or additions other than what has been announced: the Outlander Sport, which arrives this fall, and the i-MiEV electric vehicle, expected in late 2011.

Plans for Mitsubishi's existing U.S. lineup are unclear. In July, Mitsubishi Motors President Osamu Masuko told Automotive News that the company would decide by year end what to build in the future at its Normal, Ill., plant. The factory now produces the Galant, Eclipse, Eclipse Spyder and Endeavor -- all based on the aging PS platform.

Here are the highlights of Mitsubishi's plans:

New global small car: A yet-to-be-named small car should go on sale in the United States by the end of 2012 as a 2013 model. It's expected to be powered by a 1.0- to 1.3-liter three-cylinder engine and priced under $12,000.

i-MiEV: The five-door all-electric vehicle is expected to arrive here in November or December 2011. The vehicle can travel 50 miles on a charge. Don't expect loads of in-car technology. A Japanese-spec version tested by Automotive News featured only a basic stereo system, air-conditioning, heating units, power windows, and locks. Mitsubishi has said it plans to price the i-MiEV under $30,000.

PX MiEV: A plug-in hybrid electric vehicle based on the PX MiEV concept shown at the 2009 Tokyo Motor Show is expected in 2013 as a 2014 model. The concept was a crossover with four-wheel drive and a 1.6-liter double-overhead-cam engine and two motors, one for the front wheels and one for the rear wheels. But the exact segment and configuration of the production version is still under wraps.

Outlander: After being freshened for the 2010 model year, the Japan-built crossover isn't due for a major change until it's restyled for the 2014 model year.

Outlander Sport: The compact version of the crossover will go on sale this fall. The Outlander Sport has the same wheelbase as the Outlander but is shorter, narrower, and sits lower than its big brother.

Unlike the 3.5-liter V-6 in the Outlander, the Outlander Sport will get the Lancer's 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. Mitsubishi hopes to sell about 17,000 Outlander Sports annually.

Lancer: The Japan-made small sedan, Mitsubishi's best-seller in the United States, has not been redesigned since its 2007 launch. The 2010 Lancer lineup added a Sportback model. In a typical product cycle, the Lancer would be due for a major change or redesign for the 2013 model year.

Galant: The future of the once-popular mid-size sedan is uncertain. Expect the vehicle to be replaced or dropped by the 2012 or 2013 model year.

Eclipse and Eclipse Spyder: The Eclipse shares the PS platform with the Galant and may be dropped or get a major change, possibly in the 2012 or 2013 model year.

Endeavor: The future of the crossover is unclear. Sales have been slow, and the vehicle doesn't mesh with Mitsubishi's new emphasis on global small cars and electric vehicles.

(Source: Automotive News)