News - Mitsubishi Lancer
New York show: Mitsubishi Lancer future bleak
Uncertain future: The Lancer will be discontinued in the North American market late next year, and while it will soldier on in Australia for the time being, its long-term future is still unclear.
Lancer to be killed off in US, but next Mirage sedan to grow in size
29 March 2016
THE future of the Mitsubishi Lancer is looking grim, with the car-maker's North
American arm pulling it from its line-up, while a suitable partner to help
produce a new version is still yet to be locked down.
While not specifically referring to the Australian market, Mitsubishi Motors of
North America executive vice-president Don Swearingen told reporters at the New
York motor show last week that the 43-year-old nameplate will soon disappear
from the United States at the end of 2017.
“There will not be a replacement for the Lancer in the future,” he confirmed,
ending speculation on what exactly the company will do with the current,
nine-year old design.
Last year, Mitsubishi Motors Corporation of Japan revealed that its
joint-venture negotiations with other car-makers – notably the Renault-Nissan
Alliance – ceased, putting the future of a Lancer replacement in jeopardy, as
there was no chance that the company would develop one without a partnership.
It is believed that a lightly made-over version of the next Nissan Pulsar or
upcoming Renault Megane might have saved the day before all talks were called
“If we find (a partnership), and we’ve been talking to a few, and the business
case presents itself, we’d surely explore that,” Mr Swearingen said.
A statement from Mitsubishi Motors Australia Limited (MMAL) said that it had
“no decision to announce” regarding the Lancer's future in Australia, leaving a
question mark over how much longer the ageing model can soldier on.
The statement highlighted the company's global strategy to transition to a
range that focusses on SUVs and EV technology, and reaffirmed its plans for a
strong SUV line-up.
“As Australia's number two brand in combined SUV and LCV sales, Mitsubishi
Motors Australia (MMAL) is well placed to take advantage of the changing market.
“However, Lancer plays an important role in Mitsubishi's local line-up and we
expect this to continue for the foreseeable future.
“At the same time, MMAL will continue to service the rapid growth in demand for
SUVs with our current and future portfolio, covering all of the major SUV
segments – small, medium and large – with ASX, Outlander Pajero Sport and
Meanwhile, the bottom end of the passenger-car market is looking much brighter
for the Mirage micro car, which will live on and evolve in the future,
according to Mr Swearingen.
While the five-door hatch will remain more or less the size it is today, the
next-generation sedan version is expected to be stretched to put it directly
into the Honda City/Mazda2 Sedan segment.
“Mirage is growing tremendously for us,” Mr Swearingen said.
“The two versions of it – sedan and hatchback – will be the sole passenger cars
(in our line-up). They’re on different platforms actually, and you’ll see the
sedan grow a little bit, the hatchback will stay about the same… and you’ll see
a style change coming.”
A belated replacement for the Galant (380 in Australia), which went out of
production in the United States in 2012 after a 43-year run, is also unlikely,
with Mr Swearingen suggesting that it does not make financial sense for the
The mid-sized sedan market, while still worth millions of sales in the United
States annually, is conceding to the mighty SUV, forcing rivals with far-deeper
pockets than Mitsubishi to put more resources into marketing in a bid to
sustain consumer interest.
“We’ve looked at it closely, we’ve talked with partnerships with other car
companies, and it’s a great market,” Mr Swearingen revealed. “But it’s
controlled by few, with huge marketing expense and huge incentives. Frankly, as
we look at the business case, it does not pencil up.”