LOS ANGELES -- Desperate for new models to bolster their limited lineup, Mitsubishi dealers recently got a glimmer of hope with news that an entry-level sedan may arrive stateside in 2015.
The dealers were shown a rendering of the subcompact at the brand's regional dealer meetings held during the first two weeks of April, according to attendees and Mitsubishi Motors North America. The company told dealers it is targeting a 2015 release for the vehicle, attendees said.
Mitsubishi declined to confirm the release timing or whether U.S. dealers would get the car but acknowledged that the plans were discussed with dealers.
The company "is looking into introducing a small, entry-level sedan to the United States market, and while we continue to study the market trend and demand for this smaller-segment sedan, we have not come to a concrete decision on when this model may make the U.S. showroom," a Mitsubishi spokesman said in a statement.
The sedan could be based on the Mitsubishi G4 concept sedan that debuted at the Bangkok auto show in March. Mitsubishi said at the time that it planned to introduce a production version of the sedan for sale globally. The concept featured a lightweight steel body and a 1.2-liter, three-cylinder engine mated to a continuously variable transmission.
Scott Grove, owner of two Mitsubishi dealerships near Chicago and former chairman of the brand's national dealer council, said the news was a high point in a meeting that was markedly more positive than others in recent years. Grove said he saw the sedan's teasing as the latest sign of a recovery for Mitsubishi, which will launch the redesigned Outlander crossover this summer, followed by the new Mirage small car later this year and a plug-in hybrid Outlander next year.
"They basically said that this is a logical progression for our expansion," Grove said. "I believe we're on offense."