Mitsubishi offers a lean lineup
Phased-out models' replacements unclear
- 2012 European Automakers: Audi, Bentley, Bugatti, Lamborghini, Porsche, Volkswagen
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Editor's note: An earlier version of this story included an incorrect photo caption of the Outlander Sport.
LOS ANGELES -- Mitsubishi's U.S. product lineup is in transition.
In the past year, the company has phased out four vehicles: the Galant mid-sized sedan, Endeavor crossover, Eclipse Spyder convertible and Eclipse coupe.
To dealers' dismay, those products appear unlikely to be replaced one-for-one in the near term. A restyled Outlander crossover arrives next summer, with an Outlander plug-in hybrid scheduled to go on sale about six months later.
The United States may receive more plug-in hybrid, hybrid or electric vehicles in the coming years as Mitsubishi seeks to launch eight such vehicles globally by its 2016 fiscal year. But with those plans in flux, it's unclear how many electrified vehicles will arrive in the United States.
Meanwhile, a next-generation Lancer may not appear until 2015.
A source with knowledge of Mitsubishi's plans says the United States is still a priority for Mitsubishi, and the company is seeking ways to expand its U.S. lineup in 2015 and beyond. In the meantime, Mitsubishi will have a slimmed-down lineup.
Here are highlights for Mitsubishi's 2013-15 models, from company and other sources:
i: Mitsubishi's egg-shaped electric minicar was launched as a 2012 model. A freshening and a telematics connectivity system are planned for the 2015 model.
Lancer: Even though the current generation began U.S. sales in 2007, a restyled, re-engineered Lancer is unlikely before 2015, Mitsubishi sources say.
Mitsubishi is working on a re-engineered platform to reduce weight for the vehicle's next generation, according to a source with knowledge of Mitsubishi's plans. A downsized, turbocharged four-cylinder engine to boost fuel efficiency is also being considered as the next-generation Lancer's powertrain, the source said. A hybrid version is planned to follow the next-generation Lancer's debut.
The vehicle is also expected to adopt the more rounded, softer-looking sheet metal akin to the styling of the 2014 Outlander.
Mitsubishi's high-performance Lancer Evolution is expected to continue to be sold at least through 2013, the company has said. Mitsubishi also has been investigating a hybrid or plug-in hybrid powertrain for the next-generation Evolution, but the timing of U.S. sales of such a variant are uncertain.
Mirage: It's still unclear whether the new Mirage minicar will come to the United States.
Mitsubishi worries that American consumers would consider the car too small. The Mirage is more than a foot shorter than the Kia Rio and Ford Fiesta subcompacts. It is powered by a 1.0-liter, three-cylinder engine.
The vehicle, built in Thailand, is also designed for emerging markets where consumers are eager for affordable, basic transportation. Considering those factors, the likelihood that the car will be sold in the United States seems small. Even if it gets the green light, don't expect it until late 2013 or early 2014 at the earliest.
Outlander: A restyled 2014 Outlander arrives stateside next summer after making its auto show debut next month in Paris.
The biggest change to the upcoming Outlander will be new sheet metal and a new interior. The platform and powertrains will carry over, but Mitsubishi will add safety technologies such as adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warning and a system that automatically applies the brakes if onboard computers sense a collision is imminent.
Outlander plug-in hybrid: About six months after the 2014 Outlander debuts, Mitsubishi will launch a plug-in hybrid version.
The plug-in hybrid's powertrain combines Mitsubishi's four-wheel-drive system with electric motors powering the front and rear wheels. Mitsubishi has said the system will enable the vehicle to be driven in pure-electric mode, a series hybrid mode similar to the Chevrolet Volt powertrain that uses the electric motors to power the wheels using electricity created by the vehicle's engine, and in a parallel hybrid mode, in which the engine and electric motors work together to power the vehicle.
Outlander Sport: For the 2013 model, the compact crossover gets improved interior materials, more noise control and a freshened exterior.
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