SAN DIEGO -- The redesigned 2006 Mitsubishi Eclipse is expected to go on sale by Memorial Day with a sticker slightly below the current model.
The base sticker of the Eclipse, Mitsubishi's best-known model, is anticipated to be about $20,000, including freight. That would be about $275 less than the current model. Mitsubishi has not released official prices.
"No vehicle in our lineup has been as successful" as the Eclipse, said Rich Gilligan, CEO of Mitsubishi Motors North America, at a press event here on April 25.
Mitsubishi is desperate for a hit. Its U.S. sales plummeted 39.3 percent through the first three months of this year. Sales of the Eclipse dropped 27.5 percent to 3,132 in the same period. The car accounted for 9.1 percent of the brand's total sales.
Gilligan would not speculate on Eclipse sales but said the company's plant in Normal, Ill., has a capacity of 42,000 annually on one shift. The company sold 12,012 Eclipses in 2004 and 27,897 in 2003. The numbers exclude the Eclipse Spyder.
The redesigned Eclipse comes in two models, the GS and the GT.
The GS comes with a 2.4-liter, 162-hp four-cylinder engine with either a five-speed manual or a four-speed automatic transmission. The current four-cylinder engine makes 147 hp.
The GT has a 3.8-liter, 263-hp V-6 with either a six-speed manual or five-speed automatic transmission. The current 3.0-liter V-6 makes 200 hp in the GT and 210 hp in the GTS.
The GT will have a base price below $25,000, including freight.
The redesigned Eclipse has more interior room and a new 650-watt audio system.
The company expects the GT to account for 65 percent of sales. The primary customers will be split equally between singles and married couples aged 25 to 35.
The ad campaign begins June 12.
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