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Mitsubishi pushing on with new Lancer: Report

Familiar face: Mitsubishi's Lancer has been around in its current guise since 2007, but the company is not delaying the development of a new version any further.

Potential collaboration delays prompt Mitsubishi to go it alone with next Lancer

Mitsubishi logo11 Jun 2015

MITSUBISHI has decided to press on with the development of an already delayed next-generation Lancer while still looking for a partner to jump in with the new small car project, according to an American report.

The Japanese car-maker has been hoping to share the development costs, but with precious time ticking away, it reportedly fears any complications with a collaboration could push a start date back even further.

Negotiations with French brand Renault did not bear fruit, and it is understood Mitsubishi is courting the company's alliance partner Nissan, but nothing is signed and sealed.

Rather than wait until it is, Mitsubishi has decided to turn the first sod.

North American industry publication WardsAuto.com reports that Mitsubishi Motors North America executive vice principle Don Swearingen said the company would not waste any more time finding a taker.

“We are talking with a potential partner at this time, (but) at the same time we’re doing an internal design of the vehicle,” he said.

“We’re running parallel because we cannot wait any longer to see if a partnership will work out. If it falls through then we’re another year behind.”

At the ripe age of eight, the Lancer is way overdue for a successor, but with initial design stages only just underway, a replacement could still be three years away.

If a potential partner comes to the party with a suitable platform, that figure could be reduced by about 12 months, but that still chalks the eighth-generation Lancer to break cover around 2017.

Mitsubishi Motors Australia head of corporate communications Shayna Welsh said she could not confirm if a successor was on its way but added that a new Lancer would “of course” be welcome.

“The passenger car market is still significant in the Australian market,” she said.

“They (Lancer sales) are steady. We’ve seen a slight drop in Lancer sales which is in part a reflection of the competition in that part of the market.”

Despite its age, Mitsubishi's C-segment sedan still manages consistent registrations on Australian soil, finding 3378 homes to the end of May this year, similar to the tally for same period last year.

The company has previously stated it will turn its attention to more lucrative SUVs for the global line-up.

“MMC's future strategy will be underpinned by SUVs and LCVs, which really suits the Australian market,” said Ms Welsh.

But despite the shift of focus, Mitsubishi appears to still be keen to preserve the 40-year-old Lancer nameplate.

Last month, Mitsubishi announced that a Final Edition version of its iconic Lancer Evolution performance variant would bring the local bloodline to an end, while more sedate versions of the Lancer would be treated to a facelift before being put out to pasture.

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