Mitsubishi is killing the Lancer this summer

The small sedan segment is going to get a little smaller this summer. At a Mitsubishi event last night, the company discussed its new focus on the crossover market. It left us wondering where this leaves the future of Mitsubishi sedans. We asked executive vice president and COO of Mitsubishi’s North American division Don Swearingen about this, and he said the Mirage G4 will remain on the market to handle some sedan demand, but that Lancer production will end this August.

Swearingen did explain that there will probably be leftover stock for a few months after the end of production, but that the car would effectively be gone this summer with 2017 its final model year. He said the sedan market is shrinking and the company needs to make sure any new product it develops is profitable, which is why Mitsubishi continues to shift its focus to the ever-growing crossover market and there are no current plans for a new Lancer. It should also be noted that the current Lancer was introduced a decade ago and wasn’t terribly competitive to begin with. Still, we’ll miss the Lancer line, even if it was only for the hope that we’d see another Lancer Evolution someday.

Related Video:

Mitsubishi dealers would really like a truck to sell

While Mitsubishi is switching gears to focus on crossovers, that won’t address a market that its dealers would like to be in. While answering questions from the press last night, Don Swearingen, executive vice president and COO of Mitsubishi’s North American office, mentioned that its US dealers have a pickup truck high on their “shopping lists.” In fact, he said that a truck is pretty much at the top.

Mitsubishi does already have a small pickup truck it sells in foreign markets, badged as the Triton or L200. However, Swearingen said that just because dealers want a truck doesn’t mean it’s going to happen, citing various obstacles to bringing one to market. If, for example, Mitsubishi brought over the Triton, the company would have to go through the long, expensive process of certifying it for US safety and emissions regulations, not to mention making sure it fulfilled American buyers’ demands. There’s also the Chicken Tax, which levees a steep tariff on trucks built outside of the US and imported in.

One possible way Mitsubishi could circumvent all of those issues, though, would be to leverage its new partnership with Nissan. Nissan already sells Frontier small pickups in the US, and Mitsubishi could simply redesign that model to suit its style. It’s something that both companies are familiar with as well. Mitsubishi previously sold a restyled Dodge Dakota as the Raider, and Nissan allowed Suzuki to rebrand the Frontier to be sold as the Equator for a short time. It would certainly be a quick way to get into the truck market. However, Mitsubishi would also need to decide if such a product would actually be profitable, in addition to satisfying dealers.

Related Video:

Mitsubishi’s crossover plan: New model coming to Geneva, Outlander PHEV finally on the way

Mitsubishi announced last night that it will be concentrating on crossovers for the foreseeable future (which includes leaving the Lancer behind). That future starts at this year’s Geneva show, where the company will reveal a completely new small crossover. This new vehicle, the name of which Mitsubishi didn’t reveal, is planned to reach dealers in early spring of 2018.

It will feature a new version of Mitsubishi’s All Wheel Control (AWC) all-wheel drive and a new turbocharged engine that we’re told was designed completely in-house. We expect the new crossover to share cues with recent Mitsubishi concepts, including the eX Concept and Ground Tourer, since Mitsubishi’s general manager of design strategy Kazuo Yano said they will set the tone for future Mitsubishis. Don Swearingen, executive vice president and COO of Mitsubishi in North America, said this new vehicle is the “best vehicle Mitsubishi has ever produced.” That may not be the tallest order given the automaker’s recent models, but it’s definitely a good goal.

As for the size of this new crossover, it will probably be comparable to the current Outlander Sport. The plan is that the Outlander Sport and Outlander will be changing sizes in the coming years. The former will shrink and the latter will grow, leaving space in the middle for the new small crossover. There will be an awkward overlapping period, though, since we’re told both Outlander flavors are scheduled for a mild refresh sometime next year that won’t include size changes. The resized Outlander models will come sometime after that refresh. (If we’re lucky, one will get a new name to reduce confusion, especially with a new model sitting between them.)

Speaking of Outlanders, we now know when we will finally get the Outlander PHEV, a variant that has been promised and re-promised for years now. A Mitsubishi PR representative said that the plug-in hybrid crossover will be on sale in the US sometime in the next fiscal year. (For reference, Mitsubishi’s current fiscal year ends this March.) Swearingen said it will also make its official debut later this year. So after many, many delays, the US will finally see Mitsubishi’s plug-in crossover. We’ll see if it’s as big a sales success here as it is in Europe.

Related Video: