Posts Tagged ‘plug-in hybrids’

2016 Mitsubishi Outlander Teased for New York Reveal

Posted by Stephen On Wednesday, March 18th, 2015

Save the Date for NYIAS Press Conference

With the Geneva Motor Show officially behind us, we’re finally starting to get previews for the upcoming 2015 New York Auto Show. Doors open in almost exactly 2 weeks, and the first Japanese car we have to look forward to (at least officially) is a new 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander.

The Mitsubishi Outlander has struggled to stay competitive in the US in recent years. Not because it’s a bad car, but because all things being equal, most drivers will choose a model they’re more familiar with like the Toyota Highlander.

Under a bigger brand, today’s budget-friendly Outlander would do just fine. After all, everyone agrees it’s a reliable model and it has excellent fuel economy for its class… Plus, pricing is right on point with a starting price of just $23,195 for a full-sized 7-seat SUV.

Still, this teaser tells us that Mitsubishi is planning something different for 2016. This fits right in line with our expectations, since we already knew Mitsubishi would be showcasing some sort of new Outlander in New York. With this teaser, we have three options for what exactly that car will be.

Option 1. Plain 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander

2015 Mitsubishi Outlander

Most other automotive blogs on the web are convinced that Mitsubishi is bringing a standard facelifted Outlander SUV to the 2015 NY Auto Show. Even though Mitsubishi did a similar refresh in 2013 for the 2014MY just a couple years ago (pictured above), many people believe they’re giving it another shot for 2016.

This option makes sense… Even after the update, the Outlander feels a little dated, especially inside the cabin. But, there are other options.

Option 2. Facelifted 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport

2015 Outlander Sport SE

Another option would be for Mitsubishi to skip the normal Outlander entirely and showcase a facelifted version of their slightly more popular Mitsubishi Outlander Sport, aka. the Mitsubishi ASX or Mitsubishi RVR.

This option would make slightly more sense because the car hasn’t seen any major updates since the third-generation debuted in 2010. Plus, a mid-cycle facelift would be a great time to finally homogenize the Outlander Sport lineup, since the car has substantially varied specs and names across the different markets.

The only problem here is that the grille we see in the teaser image looks nothing like the grille from the current Outlander Sport. The horizontal bars tell us we’re looking at a standard Outlander, which leaves us with Option 3…

Option 3. US-Spec Outlander PHEV

2014 Mitsubishi PHEV Concept S

We’ve been patiently waiting for a plug-in hybrid version of the Outlander for several years now. It was originally supposed to launch in 2012. Then it was definitely going to hit the US by 2014. The latest estimate is April 2016, and this one could finally be on the money.

If Mitsubishi really is ready to bring their Outlander PHEV to the US, then a New York debut makes perfect sense. And, it’s possible that they could still do Option 1 here, since execs have said that they’d facelift the normal Outlander before sending dealers the PHEV model. It’s expected to look a lot like the 2014 Paris Motor Show’s Mitsubishi PHEV Concept S, which is pictured above.

Notice those horizontal bars on the grille… Could this be the car we’re seeing in New York? Stay tuned to find out!


Sporty Mitsubishi XR-PHEV II Concept Coming to Geneva

Posted by Stephen On Friday, February 27th, 2015

2015 Mitsubishi XR-PHEV II Concept preview

Earlier this month, we were disappointed when Mitsubishi hyped up “the return of a legend” ahead of the 2015 Chicago Auto Show, only to bring us an outdated and unrealistic GC-PHEV Concept… A car which they’d already shown in the exact same form a full year-and-a-half prior, albeit not in the US.

Fortunately, it looks like they’ve learned their lesson. Mitsubishi is promising to showcase an all-new concept at the 2015 Geneva Motor Show next month, and we’re actually excited. It’s called the Mitsubishi XR-PHEV II Concept, and you can see it for yourself below.

2015 Mitsubishi XR-PHEV II Concept

The Mitsubishi XR-PHEV II is a follow-up to the original XR-PHEV Concept shown all the way back at the 2013 Tokyo Motor Show. However, while the crossover coming to Geneva is officially being billed as a concept, the car in these teasers looks much closer to production than any crossover concept we’ve seen from Mitsubishi in recent memory.

So, if the XR-PHEV II is, in fact, close to production, what model will it be?

All current rumors are pointing to the new Mitsubishi Outlander Sport PHEV, expected to hit the market as a 2016 model, either later this year or at the beginning of next. This would be a fitting two-yearish follow-up to the standard Outlander PHEV that went on sale in the UK last April.

2015 Mitsubishi XR-PHEV II Concept rear

Mitsubishi says that the “concept XR-PHEV II is an urban crossover employing a lightweight, compact and high-efficiency front-engine/from-wheel drive pH EV system to achieve superior environmental and road performance.” They go on to say that the PHEV system is estimated to yield CO2 emissions below 40 g/km without sacrificing an engaging, sporty ride.

How?

From what we know right now, that “high-efficiency” PHEV system Mitsubishi references in the press release is an all-new plug-in hybrid powertrain. Mitsubishi tells us that it will use a 12 kWh battery to power an astonishingly powerful 160 hp electric motor. They didn’t say anything about the horsepower of the actual engine, probably because “the PHEV system is designed to operate primarily in all-electric mode with the engine … supplying additional motive power when needed.”

That being said, the original XR-PHEV Concept used a 1.1L turbocharged three-cylinder with 134 bhp, which probably isn’t too far off from the new concept given Mitsubishi’s explanation of the powertrain’s duties.

2015 Mitsubishi XR-PHEV II Concept interior design

In addition to the new PHEV system and exterior design we’ll see when the Mitsubishi XR-PHEV II Concept hits the floor in Geneva, we’re also keeping an eye out for the interior. Mitsubishi says that the interior expresses fortitude with a minimalist, high-contrast design. It’s intended to functionally enhance the drivers focus on the road with convenient, intuitive controls.

We have to say, this is the most excited we’ve been to see a Mitsubishi concept so far in 2015. Stay tuned next month to see the Mitsubishi XR-PHEV II Concept at the 2015 Geneva Motor Show!


Mitsubishi GC-PHEV Concept Makes US Debut in Chicago

Posted by Stephen On Wednesday, February 18th, 2015

2015 Mitsubishi GC-PHEV Concept 2

Remember a couple weeks ago when Mitsubishi gave us that neat little teaser for the 2015 Chicago Auto Show with the tagline, “The Return of a Legend”?

At the time, we and the rest of the Internet speculated that this meant some sort of preview for a revived Mitsubishi Montero. Turns out, the “Legend” that they were referring to is the Mitsubishi GC-PHEV Concept, that overly futuristic SUV concept you’ve probably forgotten about by now, since it was first shown all the way back from the 2013 Tokyo Motor Show.

2015 Mitsubishi GC-PHEV Concept rear

But surely they made some cool new changes to the GC-PHEV Concept, right? After all, it has been a full year and a half since the crossover’s debut.

Unfortunately, no. The car Mitsubishi chose to show off in Chicago – the “Return of a Legend” they were referring to – was literally the exact same model they brought to Tokyo in 2013. No changes. No technology updates. No nothing new. Talk about unsubstantiated hype; we’re actually kind of miffed.

2015 Mitsubishi GC-PHEV Concept profile

In case you don’t remember, the Mitsubishi GC-PHEV Concept runs on a supercharged 3.0L V6 that outputs 335 hp on its own, paired up with a 94 hp electric motor and an eight-speed automatic transmission. The futuristic crossover can reportedly run a full 25 miles on electric-only power thanks to a hyper efficient 12-kWh lithium-ion battery.

Talking about the design or the interior is a fruitless endeavor, since Mitsubishi has added so much unrealistic fluff that identifying key themes is nearly impossible.

2015 Mitsubishi GC-PHEV Concept

Fortunately, it’s not all bad news. Why would Mitsubishi want to remind us about their GC-PHEV Concept?

For three reasons:

  1. To build hype for their upcoming Outlander PHEV, which is expected to finally make it into the US as a 2016 model year.
  2. To showcase key design themes Mitsubishi plans to integrate into the refreshed Outlander and Outlander Sport, which are also expected to hit showroom floors later this year.
  3. The GC-PHEV Concept really does in fact herald a return of the Mitsubishi Montero – that part still stands true.

Plus, among the more realistic technologies shown inside the GC-PHEV are a bevy of new safety features that we expect will soon come standard in most of the Japanese automaker’s lineup. These include blind-spot warning, anti-collision braking, and ACC (adaptive cruise control), as well as new additions to the field with a senior-friendly “unintentional vehicle move-off” monitor, which basically prevents accidental acceleration or braking.

Want to learn more about the Mitsubishi GV-PHEV Concept? You can read Mitsubishi’s official press release for the Chicago Auto Show here.


Mitsubishi Teases Sporty New Hybrid SUV for Geneva

Posted by Stephen On Friday, January 30th, 2015

Mitsubishi is on an SUV spree so far this year. We already know to expect the “return of a legend” at next month’s Chicago Auto Show – a car expected to herald a return of the Montero to the US. Now, the Japanese automaker has given us this preview of a new hybrid SUV model coming to Geneva:

Mitsubishi XR-PHEV geneva preview

Look familiar? It should – the teaser image of the grille is highly reminiscent of the XR-PHEV Concept we first saw over a year ago at the 2013 Tokyo Motor Show. Fittingly, we’re expecting to see a production-ready evolution of the year-old Mitsubishi XR-PHEV SUV (pictured below) in Geneva, or at the very least a prototype.

Mitsubishi XR-PHEV Concept

You may remember that we’d already re-looked at the Mitsubishi XR-PHEV concept when we covered the return of the Montero last week. However, we didn’t really discuss what our original thoughts were when the concept first hit the showroom back in 2013. At the time, we projected that the XR-PHEV previewed a new Mitsubishi Outlander.

Today, we got a second teaser for the hybrid SUV that will take a bow in Geneva.

Mitsubishi XR-PHEV sport hybrid preview 2

With this second teaser, we now have both front and profile views of the car, with a few noteworthy visual features that Mitsubishi clearly wants us to notice.

First, the blue LED headlights probably won’t be blue in real-life, but the slanted design definitely will, along with the horizontal grille with X-shaped chrome accents. We also notice the swooping silhouette of the new crossover, complete with the X-shaped taillights that outline the rear of the vehicle. You can also make out massive lips around the wheel wells, and a striking body line extending from the back of the front wheel to the tip of the taillights.

Interestingly enough, there’s a slight chance that this isn’t the new Outlander or Outlander Sport -or- Outlander Plug-In Hybrid. Some sources believe that instead, Mitsubishi will be introducing us to the successor to the outgoing Lancer Evolution in Geneva. While it’s unlikely it would hold the Lancer Evo name, apparently Mitsubishi at one point claimed that IF they replaced the Lancer Evo’s slot in their lineup, it would definitely be with a sports SUV, although we’d heard it would come from a partnership with Renault-Nissan.

So, with that we have a mystery, folks. In the end, our bet’s on a new Outlander Sport hybrid which we’ve been told to expect sometime this year.  Either way, you’ll be able to prove us wrong when the 2015 Geneva Motor Show opens in March!

 


Is the Mitsubishi Montero Coming to the Chicago Auto Show?

Posted by Stephen On Monday, January 26th, 2015

The 2015 Chicago Auto Show previews are officially coming in now, folks. After the teaser for a facelifted Honda Pilot, Mitsubishi has given us a teaser for a new SUV of their own. From the look of it, it’s larger than either of their current Outlander crossovers, and the Japanese automaker lauds it as “the return of a legend.”

Mitsubishi Return of a Legend Teaser

What could it be?

A revived US-spec Mitsubishi Montero, which was axed from the Mitsubishi’s US lineup in 2005 in order for them to focus marketing their smaller crossover offers. However, the Montero continues to be sold in other markets as the Pajero. Even in other markets, though, the now-fourth-generation Pajero just hasn’t had much traction in the past few years. Mitsubishi aims to change that with the next-generation model, which they previously told us to expect in 2018.

So, if the new Montero isn’t coming until 2018, what are we going to see at Chicago?

2013 Mitsubishi GC-PHEV Concept premiere

2013 Mitsubishi GC-PHEV Concept premiere

If you have a particularly long memory, you may remember Mitsubishi’s GC-PHEV Concept hybrid all the way back from the 2013 Tokyo Motor Show. A little more than one year later, we believe they’re bringing the next iteration of that concept to the US. Chances are it will be a lot more realistic, if not fully production ready.

Mitsubishi GC-PHEV Concept

Another version of the Mitsubishi GC-PHEV Concept

That being said, Mitsubishi hasn’t strictly specified that this new debut is anything but a carbon copy of the Tokyo model from 2013. It’s perfectly possible that we’ll just get a recolored model, or maybe a GC-PHEV Sport Concept or something like that. We just don’t know right now.

What we do know is that Mitsubishi will definitely offer a plug-in Montero/Pajero at some point, and that it will definitely be available in the US.

Current Mitsubishi Pajero

Current Mitsubishi Pajero

The best case scenario – the one we’re secretly crossing our fingers for – would be that Mitsubishi gives us a production-ready 2016 Mitsubishi Montero that’s also the next-generation model. Unfortunately, we probably won’t know for sure until the second week in February when ‘the legend’ returns!

Japanese Car Auction Find – 2010 Pajero Mini

2010 Pajero Mini

This is a really cool follow-up auction find to today’s Chicago Auto Show teaser. It’s a 2010 Pajero Mini in surprisingly good shape.

The Pajero Mini was released in 1994 as a way for Mitsubishi to enter the Japanese Kei car segment using the popular Pajero name. However, the mechanics of the two cars are totally unrelated. The Pajero Mini was actually built on the platform of the Mitsubishi Minica until the Minica was axed in 2011. The Pajero Mini ceased production the following year.

2010 Pajero Mini auction find

Even though it’s no longer manufactured, the mini-SUV actually had a very successful run. In fact, in 2008 Nissan paid the smaller automaker to produce an OEM version that they went on to sell as the Nissan Kix.

2010 Pajero Mini interior

Today’s auction find is a 2010 model, so it would have been one of the final versions of the car. All in all, it’s a fairly basic compact SUV, but a reliable one. The turbocharged 660cc four-cylinder isn’t too shabby too drive either. Get more details below this car’s auction sheet:

2010 Pajero Mini auction sheet

“Grade 4.5, interior B, exterior condition B, first registered January 2010, Pajero Mini model, aftermarket stereo, AC, FAT, power steering, power windows, original AWs, airbag, first time in auction, stone chips in front windscreen, interior grime, marks as per map”


Next-Generation Toyota Prius Design ‘Not Good Enough’

Posted by Stephen On Wednesday, December 17th, 2014

2015 Toyota Prius Design Rejected

Today we learned just how determined Toyota is to integrate a more powerful and emotional design language into their lineup. The next-generation Toyota Prius, which was originally due out in early 2015, will be the first car to showcase that new style.

Unfortunately, we’ve learned today that the original design for the Japanese automaker’s iconic hybrid hatchback didn’t meet the cut, and so the launch of the next-generation Prius has been delayed by almost a year. If everything goes smoothly from here on out, we’ll have the new Prius by this time next year, but nothing is guaranteed just yet.

The news comes from an interview between Automotive News and Toyota’s executive VP, Mitsuhisa Kato, plus a couple other unnamed execs cited throughout the article. According to insiders, this is how the decision to delay the new Prius was made:

The chief engineer in charge of developing the next Toyota Prius brought the original design for the hybrid hatchback to an executive meeting late last year. That’s when Kato, backed by the opinion of Mr. Akio Toyoda himself, rejected the design for not meeting the cut. The report indicates that there were several other issues with the original car’s design outside of pure aesthetic appeal, but at the same time that there was no way they’d release a new Prius that didn’t have a feeling like a “fresh breeze”.

2014 Toyota C-HR Concept

Toyota originally planned to promote the next-generation previous throughout 2014. However, it was only in April of this year that the design was approved at a corporate level. That’s why we’ve only seen one single concept that heralds the Prius, and even that was an indirect application. We’re talking about, of course, the Toyota C-HR Concept pictured above, which we saw earlier this year at the 2014 Paris Motor Show. We know that the C-HR previewed a hybrid crossover (the Prius will remain a hatchback; don’t worry), but the “diamond architecture” of the concept will carry over to the new Prius.

We certainly don’t blame Toyota for taking their time with this one – not only is the Prius one of their best-selling models with over 1 million units sold in 2013 (for the second year in a row), it’s also the first production model that to utilize Toyota’s new “diamond architecture” design language, which we’re assuming will permeate the rest of the lineup over the next five-ish years. A successful launch for the new Prius would mean that Toyota is succeeding in expanding their appeal to the hipper, more emotionally-driven drivers of today.


Next-Gen Mazda MX-5 Debut, Possible Mazda RX-7, Mazda2 PHEV

Posted by Stephen On Tuesday, July 15th, 2014

July has been a busy month for Mazda, and we’re not even halfway through! We’ve had two big rumors and one piece of official news, so let’s start things off with what we know for sure:

New Mazda MX-5 to Debut September 3

Anniversary Mazda MX-5 Miata

Last week Mazda confirmed that the fourth-generation of their MX-5 Miata Eunos Roadster sports coupe will make its global debut on September 3. The little Japanese roadster will be unveiled simultaneously at three separate events held in the US, Spain and Japan. The US debut will be of particular interest since it will be held in Monterey, California, which also happens to be the location of the Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.

Unfortunately, we don’t have any images of the new Mazda MX-5 Miata. What’s pictured above is the Miata’s 25th anniversary edition, first seen at this year’s New York Auto Show. However, it’s unlikely that this car will be the basis for the next-gen model. All we’ve seen is the new model’s chassis, which was also on display in New York. Fortunately, even though we haven’t seen anything from the new Miata, Mazda has given us something to hear:

Is there any sound sweeter? Mazda says that the fourth generation Miata will be “lighter, stronger and with a physical footprint more in tune with its first-generation predecessor than with its heavier, larger current-day cousin.”

Mazda2 RE PHEV Rumor

Our Australian colleagues over at Motoring.com.au reported earlier this week that Mazda “is almost certain to produce a plug-in hybrid version of its third-generation Mazda2.”

Apparently, even though they’ve had a lot of success with hyper-efficient conventional engines, Mazda would like to try their hand at a plug-in hybrid. However, the Mazda2 RE PHEV would only be available in markets with significant government support (aka. tax breaks), and that’s if it ever makes it to production at all. This is because the only way that a hybrid car could reduce more CO2 – both during manufacture and on the road – than Mazda’s current SkyActiv engines is if half of a car’s sales are of the hybrid model.

Revived Mazda RX-7 Sports Car

One final rumor, again from the folks over at Motoring, states that Mazda is considering reviving their RX-7 sports car. The RX-7 Series 1 launched all the way back in 1978, and Mazda sold 811,634 of the two-door coupes from then until the car was axed in 2002.

The defining characteristics of the original Mazda RX-7 were its Wankel rotary engine and its twin-scroll turbocharger. Together, these components enable up to 33% more engine power at higher revolutions than a naturally aspirated engine of the same displacement. Now, Mazda is thinking about bringing the technology back in full force in a new RX-7, which will reportedly output something in the ballpark of 450hp. If the new car does come to fruition, it will likely be built on the RX-8 platform and feature the brand’s new Kodo design language.

Unfortunately, Motoring estimates that we won’t see the new RX-7 until May of 2017. So, we’ve got a while to wait until we’ll know whether this particular rumor is true or false.

 


Subaru Viziv 2 Concept Debut at Geneva Motor Show

Posted by Stephen On Thursday, March 13th, 2014

With the 2014 Geneva Motor Show winding down to a close, there are just a few Japanese cars left that we haven’t covered. Today, we’re going to take a look at the newest vehicle from Subaru – the eco-friendly Viziv 2 Concept.

Subaru Viziv 2 Concept Front

Fittingly, we saw the original Subaru Viziv Concept at last year’s Geneva Motor Show, so the concept has effectively come full circle. As we discussed in our preview post, the Subaru Viziv 2 Concept is likely to eventually replace the outgoing Subaru Tribeca.

The Subaru Viziv 2 Concept is a very ‘green’ vehicle with enormous consideration for fuel economy. It’s a plug-in hybrid that adopts an efficient all-wheel-drive system, which uses a low-displacement 1.6L diesel engine and a single electric motor to power the front wheels, with two independent electric motors for each rear wheel. Not only does this allow for some interesting driving dynamics, it also allows the Subaru Viziv 2 Concept to operate solely on electric power at low speeds.

But, the fuel economy extends beyond just the engine and the motor. The concept also uses a highly efficient stop-start system to sip fuel only when needed. In addition, it features a new “Eco Cruise Mode” which automatically detects road conditions to ensure optimal use of the diesel engine.

So, clearly the new Subaru Viziv 2 Concept is a technologically advanced car with excellent fuel economy. But, what about the rest of the car? After all, good gas mileage only goes so far with today’s drivers.

Subaru Viziv 2 Concept Front 2

As you can see, the Viziv 2 also adopts an aggressive aesthetic, much more pronounced than the original Viziv Concept. Both the front (above) and the rear (below) feature an interesting LED configuration that almost look like some sort of futuristic jet-thrusters, the kind you’d see on a space ship or Iron Man.

Subaru Viziv 2 Rear View

Everything from the tires to the headlights to the windows and beltline have been adjusted from the original Viziv, and we have to say, we like the overall direction that Subaru is going. Unfortunately, with the aesthetics in particular, we have to take everything with a grain of salt. Subaru is notorious for showcasing extremely impressive looking concepts that become droll and drab on their way to production. Let’s hope that that isn’t the case with the Subaru Viziv 2.

In addition to the design, Subaru has also given considerable thought to the car’s interior. One of the biggest complaints with the Subaru Tribeca was its cramped rear seating… Subaru has clearly put effort into the Viziv 2’s interior to make sure that’s not a problem with this vehicle.

Subaru Viziv 2 Interior View

All in all, the Subaru Viziv 2 Concept certainly lives up to the hype set by the original teaser images. However, we can’t help but be the slightest bit skeptical when it comes to Subaru. After all, the new WRX ended up quite a bit more boring than the original concept, although Subaru did make it substantially more affordable than the outgoing WRX, so perhaps it evens out. Either way, we will likely see the production-ready variant of the Viziv 2 by the end of the year, so stay tuned to see how this one pans out.


Honda / Acura Bringing 4 New(ish) Cars to the 2013 New York Auto Show

Posted by Stephen On Friday, March 22nd, 2013

As we talked about yesterday, the 2013 New York International Auto Show is right around the corner with doors opening next Thursday, March 28. With it, you can expect to see a whole host of new Japanese cars from just about all of your favorite brands. Today, we’re going to talk about Honda and the plethora of new or updated vehicles they will be showcasing in New York.

We’ve got a lot to cover, so let’s jump right in:

2014 Honda Odyssey

While we won’t see a new generation of the Honda Odyssey at New York, we will see several “innovative new features” for the 2014 model year. In an effort to maintain the popular minivan’s competitive place in the segment, Honda will integrate several new safety features such as Adaptive Cruise Control and Lane Departure Warning. Additionally, they may offer a new powertrain with a 3.5L V6 engine capable of 278bhp.

Not too shabby.

Honda Accord Plug-in

Most of us have forgotten that Honda originally teased a PHEV-version of their Accord a full two years ago. Now that the 2013 Honda Accord Plug-in has been on sale for a couple months in select locations, Honda is excited to show us what the 2014MY holds in store. With an electric-only fuel economy of up to 138 MPGe (UK), the new Accord PHEV will apparently be the first car ever to meet the EPA’s newly revised standards.

Honda Fit EV

We probably don’t need to say too much about this one. The Honda Fit (or the Honda Jazz, as it is also known) is already a great car. In an effort to compete with new EVs coming from Nissan, Ford, Chevy and Toyota (among others), the Fit EV will boast a driving range of 82 miles.

Next Generation Acura MDX

Last, but certainly not least, Honda will be showing off their next-gen Acura MDX luxury SUV. We’ve already seen the concept and it looked fantastic, so we’re excited to see what the production-ready version will look like.

As far as stats, Honda’s luxury marquee has already told us a surprising amount. Basically, we’ve been promised a more spacious interior, more safety features and a new powertrain with a 3.5L i-VTEC V6 engine capable of both all-wheel and front-wheel drive. Not to mention the facelift, of course.

As you can see, Honda alone has several cars to get us excited about for the 2013 New York International Auto Show. We still have about a week left for previews, though, so I’m sure there are more exciting vehicles yet to come. Either way, stay tuned here for the latest news and updates!

Sources: Autocar, Autocar, Worldcarfans.com


Mitsubishi Planning An American Revival

Posted by Stephen On Wednesday, December 5th, 2012

According to Mitsubishi Motor Corp. (MMC) President Osamu Masuko, things have gotten as bad as they’re going to get for the brand’s US presence. In a recent interview with Hans Greimel of Automotive News (autonews.com), Mr. Masuko clearly laid out his plan for the brand’s future resurgence in the US market.

Are their plans desperate, daring, or just plain daft? That will be up to you to decide after getting the full scoop below.

First, it’s important that you get a real idea for how poorly Mitsubishi is doing in the States. Over the past year, the entire American automotive market has shown a growth of 14%. However, in the same amount of time Mitsubishi has seen a 28% decline in sales. During the last fiscal year Mitsubishi sold close to 70,000 cars, while this year they are on track to sell a measly 55,000 units by March 31, 2013. To be fair, this year Mitsubishi did cut four vehicles from their US lineup (Eclipse, Endeavor, Galant, Spyder), which certainly could correlate to an overall decrease in sales. Nonetheless, there’s no denying that Mitsubishi is floundering, and if things don’t turn around in the next few years it would be unsurprising if they left the States altogether.

So, what is Mitsubishi’s game plan going forward? How are they going to revive their share of the US market?

Step 1. Increase volume, particularly of the Outlander

One car in particular seems to be the cornerstone of Mitsubishi’s North American presence going forward, and that car is the Outlander. The Outlander Sport was introduced to the US market in July of this year, and Osamu Masuko believes just having that car available for a full year will have a dramatic impact on their sales. Furthermore, Mitsubishi will be introducing a redesigned Outlander about halfway through next year to maintain their forward momentum. Then, in January of 2014 they plan to release the Outlander plug-in hybrid to the US market (it’s being released in Japan in January, 2013).

Mitsubishi Outlander Plug-In Hybrid 2013

Not only is Mitsubishi putting a heavy emphasis on the Outlander trio (Outlander, Outlander Sport, Outlander plug-in) from a marketing standpoint, they’re also ramping up production at their Normal, Ill. factory. Currently the automotive plant is producing 50,000 units per year, but plans are in place to increase production to 70,000 units per year. Obviously, all of these Outlanders won’t fit within Mitsubishi’s share of the US market, so they plan to export Outlanders from Normal to places like Latin America, the Middle East and Russia. The aim of this maneuver is for Mitsubishi to make the most of their manufacturing capabilities without requiring significant expansion.

Step 2. Introducing the Mirage

Mitsubishi’s newest member of their lineup is the Mirage, which debuted at the Paris Motor Show earlier this year. With the slogan “Less is more”, the Mirage is intended to appeal to the sub-compact segment with a smaller size, lighter weight, but better fuel efficiency than the competition (hello VW Polo).

Interestingly enough, the Mirage is also a pivotal piece of Mitsubishi’s plan to increase their presence in Europe, not just in North America. Although, the Europeans will see a battery-powered version at some point, while us Americans will only ever get the 1.0L and 1.2L 3-cylinder petrol engine variants. Mitsubishi has plans to release the Mirage to the North American market sometime around September of 2013.

At the end of the interview with AutoNews, Osamu Masuko made it clear that Mitsubishi has no plans whatsoever to withdraw from the US market. He believes that the plan to make the US into an exporting base along with the slow increase of their lineup should stymie the steady reduction in sales they’ve faced over the past year. However, I’m sure Suzuki never planned to withdraw from the US market, either. Don’t get me wrong, I’m never rooting against a Japanese car manufacturer, but is Mitsubishi is doing enough to avoid that fate?

Source: AutoNews