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Tokyo show: Mitsubishi drops sportscars for Evs

GT no: With Mitsubishi focusing on electric vehicles, it may be many years before a successor to the mad 4WD twin-turbo V6 GTO arrives.

Shift in focus to EVs and hybrids for Mitsubishi means no sportscar for some time

20 Nov 2013


A RETURN to the sports-car arena appears off the cards for Mitsubishi for now, with the company confirming it will channel its resources into perfecting its electric vehicle and plug-in hybrid technology instead.

Punters hoping for a return of iconic models like the 3000GT from the 1990s or the FTO will have to wait a bit longer as the Japanese car-maker has put development of performance models on hold.

A return to the segment has not been completely ruled out, with the company's head of product planning suggesting hybrid or EV tech could power any possible future performance vehicle.

Mitsubishi's Ralliart sports sub-brand could live on, but with more input from local subsidiaries, rather than from the company's Japanese head-quarters.

Speaking at the Tokyo motor show, Mitsubishi Motors Corporation managing director and head officer of product projects and strategy group Ryugo Nakao confirmed the company's strong focus on green technology has meant the focus has shifted from performance cars.

“We would like to maintain the Ralliart brand, however not the development of this car,” he said. “Instead we hope that distributors of each country can actually support us in development of Ralliart.” Nakao San said the company's green technology is not yet at a point where it could be used in a mass-production performance car, but that Mitsubishi will continue to develop this for future vehicles.

“For our sportscar segment, with our current technology, it is very difficult to conduct environmental protection. Therefore we cannot do both environmental protection and sports car protection at the same time.

“It takes time for us to make it possible to do so. Therefore, we would like to focus on development of electric vehicles and PHEV (plug-in hybrid electric vehicles) first and then based upon this development, the PHEV, we would like to support the next generation sportscar in the future if possible.”

Earlier this month, the Japanese car-maker released details of its 'New Stage 2016' business plan that includes plans to focus on its core SUV models and EV and PHEV development. Part of the plan included development of a D-segment large sedan and a C-segment small sedan - widely believed to be a replacement for the aging Lancer - with the Renault-Nissan Alliance.

Nakao-San would not go into details about the small sedan, but said the next-generation Evolution was still a possibility, despite the tie in with Renault.

“We consider Evolution like Pajero which actually established our brand.

However with the current Evolution, with only with petrol technology it would be difficult to market the next-generation Evolution. So when the right timing comes, when we have the right technology, we would consider that in the future.”

Nakao-San confirmed that the current Evolution 10 will be the last iteration of the iconic sports sedan to be powered by an internal combustion engine.

Asked whether Mitsubishi would consider developing a sports model with Renault-Nissan, Nakao-San said it was unlikely.

“At this moment I do not consider such a vehicle. If we develop, we will develop by ourselves.

At this moment we have to concentrate on SUV, and PHEV and EV.”

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