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Mitsubishi Lancer replacement still not locked in
Seven-year-old Lancer set to box on as Mitsubishi platform-sharing study drags on
10 Apr 2014
A REPLACEMENT for Mitsubishi's ageing Lancer could be years away, with Mitsubishi Motors Corporation president Osamu Masuko revealing his company is still studying how best to come up with a new model under a model-sharing agreement, most likely with Renault Nissan.
And according to Mr Masuko, any decision on the so-called C-segment car will have to wait until after Mitsubishi has come up with a plan for the larger Galant replacement for global markets, meaning Mitsubishi dealers in Australia are facing a long wait for the new Lancer in this market where such small cars are king.
The delay is a consequence of the Japanese company's decision to scale back passenger car platform development of its own, instead focussing its engineering energies on SUVs, light commercial vehicles and plug-in electric powertrains that will spearhead Mitsubishi's line-up in future.
Even when the Lancer does arrive, do not expect another fire-breathing Evolution sports model, as Mr Masuko has said the current Evo X will be the last.
Mitsubishi is in talks with Renault Nissan to share platforms for both the Lancer and mid-sized Galant to plug the gaps in its passenger car range.
In Adelaide for a meeting with Australian Mitsubishi dealers yesterday, Mr Masuko said Mitsubishi had to be selective on which platforms it developed, and it could not develop passenger car platforms alone.
He said Mitsubishi had elected to focus on SUVs and light-commercial vehicles, and was pushing ahead with its new range of SUVs, including the upcoming new ASX and Pajero, as well as the all-new Triton ute.
All of these vehicles will get multiple powertrains, including petrol, diesel, hybrid, plug-in hybrid or full EV.
The Triton is due in Australia late this year, replacing the current model that was introduced in 2006, and most likely will include a conventional hybrid version from the first facelift.
The Lancer turns seven this year – positively ancient compared with rivals such as the top-selling Toyota Corolla and Mazda3, both of which have been replaced with all-new models in the past 12 months.
New Lancers are being heavily discounted, offered for $19,990 driveaway on the Mitsubishi corporate website, and dealer demonstrators with minimal kilometres are also being offered at even sharper prices.
So far this year, Lancer sales have slipped 3.4 per cent in a market segment up 1.7 per cent. Once Mitsubishi’s top-selling model, it is now third behind the Thai-built Triton and Mirage.
Mr Masuko would not be drawn on when a new Lancer could be expected, saying Mitsubishi was “studying several scenarios” on replacing the company's C-segment car.
“One study is how to share a platform,” he said, adding that one of those options was sharing a platform with Renault Nissan.
“Having said that, there is no decision yet.” As previously reported by GoAuto, this is expected to involve planting a Mitsubishi body on Renault Megane underpinnings.
Mr Masuko said he would like to come to a decision soon on the C-segment car “without spending too much time”.
“Before we come to a decision about C-segment, first, I think we have to make the decision about D-segment (Galant),” he said. “I do not think that will be long away, so once the D-segment situation is resolved, we will decide C-segment.” The Galant is not currently sold in Australia, but it is a priority for the United States where Mitsubishi sales trail well behind most Japanese rivals such as Toyota, Honda and Nissan.
Mr Masuko said that while the C-segment market was an important one for Mitsubishi, his company believed the biggest growth would come from SUVs, and that was why it intended to focus heavily on that segment.
He said developing markets would provide the biggest growth opportunities in the next several years, indicating Mitsubishi would actively chase sales in these markets.
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