LOS ANGELES -- Mitsubishi is considering selling a hybrid car smaller than the Lancer in the United States.
In January, the company will unveil a concept that is close to what it has in mind.
The Concept-CT MIEV has four doors, all-wheel drive and a 1.1-liter gasoline engine. Each wheel has its own electric motor. The car will be shown at the Detroit auto show.
"The prototype is in a highly finished state," says Wayne Killen, vice president of marketing for Mitsubishi Motors North America Inc. "This is not just a styling exercise."
The company could drop the hybrid powertrain and offer a standard gasoline engine, he says.
If approved, the car would join a growing list of small cars from Asian automakers. Toyota Motor Corp. already markets three Scion nameplates, and Chevrolet sells the Korea-made Aveo. Honda Motor Co. is bringing out the Japan-market Fit in the spring. Nissan Motor Co. is adding the Versa hatchback next summer.
Killen says Mitsubishi is testing the hybrid technology in Japan. The electric motors provide all-wheel drive without a traditional transmission, cutting weight, he says.
Killen says if Mitsubishi does sell the car in this country, it may be based on the next-generation Colt, which is due before the end of this decade.
"We've got a business case under investigation," he says. "The Detroit display is key to that."
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