TOKYO--Mitsubishi is working on a green overhaul of its turbocharged all-wheel-drive Lancer Evolution so the gas-guzzling sedan won't go extinct.
The new vision for the performance car is an electric-gasoline hybrid with in-wheel motors, Mitsubishi Motors President Osamu Masuko says.
Mitsubishi wants to preserve the brand equity it has established for performance cars and all-wheel-drive vehicles.
But the Evo needs to be in step with the company's effort to rebrand itself as a global leader in electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles.
"I don't think it's a good idea to introduce the next generation of Lancer Evolution that is similar to what we have today," Masuko said in a Nov. 1 interview.
"But if we think of hybrids with in-wheel electric motors, then there could be the possibility of a Lancer Evolution with an in-wheel motor," he said. "That's the image that I personally have."
Masuko said Mitsubishi developed a prototype Lancer Evolution electric vehicle with in-wheel motors in 2005. But the car was limited by the battery's charging time and driving range.
A plug-in hybrid version wouldn't face those restrictions, he said. And the in-wheel motors would be an ideal way to provide power to all four wheels. Mitsubishi is developing in-wheel motor technology, but it is not ready for market yet, Masuko said.
A new model is "not too long" in the future, he said. "I don't know if it's going to be a plug-in or a hybrid, but it's not too far in the future."
(Source: Automotive News)