The sun isn’t shining so bright over Mitsubishi-land. The manufacturer has been showing signs of struggle on the North American market. Their increasingly anemic lineup is losing another player, the Evolution, and with the unveiling of the 2017 Mirage at the Los Angeles Auto Show, the maker also announced the model would be skipping the 2016 model-year. These events, combined with the shutdown of their US-based production operations, left us wondering what the plan was. Other than stepping down from selling cars in North America, that is.
Well, we finally caught a glimpse of what Mitsubishi’s long-term plan is and it won’t involve throwing in the towel. According to Auto News, who discussed with Mitsubishi Motors Corp. CEO Osamu Masuko, EVs and SUVs will be the main focus of Mitsubishi’s grand scheme. The CEO explained their decision to focus their energy on what they’re good at: SUVs and four-wheel drive. The goal is to regroup, maximize the resources and propel the brand forward. The refreshed 2017 Mirage and RVR (or Outlander Sport for our southern neighbors) are only the first step towards a very ambitious plan. By 2020, Mitsubishi is aiming to launch three electric utility vehicles. Forget about the iMiEV; we are hoping to see the brand thrive on the tech side of things, considering the opening of their new advanced technology office in the high-tech hub that is Silicon Valley.
The timeline drafted by Masuko goes as follow: in 2016, the refreshed Mitsubishi RVR will go on sale, followed by the introduction of the PHEV plug-in hybrid Outlander on the North American market. 2017 will welcome the returning Mirage as well as the introduction of a new crossover model, destined to become a middle-ground offering between the RVR and the Outlander. Finally, 2019 should mark the introduction of a new-generation RVR, hinted at the Tokyo Auto Show. Both the Outlander and the new-model crossover will receive plug-in hybrid variants whereas the RVR will be offered with an all-electric powertrain. There has been no renewed talk of a next-gen Lancer after a collaboration with Renault fell through, and there will be no other compact addition to the North American lineup. And if you are among the few enthusiasts who were hoping to see the return of the Montero… well, sorry Fobroader… you’re the only one we know.
The manufacturer is making a bold move by betting on the current popularity of the crossover segment to help relaunch their brand in the long run. Let’s hope the compact utility vehicle trend won’t be too short lived, we’re kind of rooting for Mitsubishi.