Mitsubishi on why there won’t be a Lancer Evo, even though shareholders requested it

Mitsubishi made its first newsworthy announcement in years in May when it said it would revive Ralliart, its motorsports brand for all things rally. On June 23 at Mitsubishi Motors’ annual shareholders meeting, CEO Takao Kato got a bit more specific about what exactly that means.

Firstly, Kato described the role of the revived Ralliart. As Response reports (via Google translation) “We plan to develop it as a genuine accessory in a wide range of models, but we will also consider involvement in rallying.” Presumably, that means some Ralliart branded cosmetic packages for now, though it seems that motorsports could be in the future if stars align.

Unfortunately, that’s going to be quite a few years away, as the report also confirms there are no plans to build a new Lancer Evolution. Interestingly, it says that shareholders actually requested its revival. That would be an unusual ask, as shareholders typically care only about maximizing profit, and enthusiast models are seen a just a means to that end. Perhaps even they know that Mitsubishi really needs a halo car to bolster a largely forgettable lineup.

Kato responded by saying that while he wants to do it, they first need to return the company to the black. Like many other carmakers, there is a strong drive to electrification — a field Mitsubishi was once a pioneer in with its four-motor, motor-in-hub Evolution MIEV — and that takes a lot of money. “The company is still not strong enough,” Kato said.

Kato, who took the CEO position in 2019, realizes that Mitsubishi’s current portfolio leaves a lot to be desired. He mentioned a desire to make a car that “embodies the essence of Mitsubishi Motors” and “is talked about as ‘a Mitsubishi car.'” That identity is going to take a lot forging, but Kato believes Mitsubishi has certain strengths it can capitalize on, including electrification technology and high off-road performance.

It’s going to be a long shot, and given the current climate of the auto industry they’ll have to make a hail Mary play. But as they say, the first step to recovery is knowing admitting you have a problem.

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3 Responses to Mitsubishi on why there won’t be a Lancer Evo, even though shareholders requested it

  1. RX626 says:

    “Perhaps even they know that Mitsubishi really needs a halo car to bolster a largely forgettable lineup.”

    Yes, I think this is exactly one of the reasons why Mitsubishi has declined.
    Today’s image of Mitsubishi Motors is like that of Pontiac or Plymouth at the end of the brand’s life.
    It used to produce wonderful and original models and had a passionate following for the brand.
    Today, however, there is no sign of that, and the brand is struggling to establish its own identity.

    Of course, there are still some original models left in today’s Mitsubishi.
    The Delica D5 and Outlander are representatives of such models, and are the last bastions of the “Strong Drive” brand image that are still being preserved.

    But even they are not as good as the heroes they once were.
    For many, the iconic Mitsubishi models have been the Pajero and Evo. The Pajero in particular had such a strong image in people’s minds that even those who were not familiar with cars would immediately think of the Pajero when they thought of Mitsubishi.

    As pointed out in this article, the halo car will never be a successful model in terms of sales.
    But I believe there is more to them than their sales performance. It is their overwhelming presence as an advertisement that makes people strongly identify with the brand and encourages them to buy other cars of the same brand.

    If Mitsubishi had been a giant like Toyota, Honda or Nissan, their cars would have continued to sell just as well without Evo or Pajero.

    But Mitsubishi is not a giant; it is a second brand like Subaru and Mazda.
    What if Subaru lost the Legacy and WRX/Impreza? What if Mazda lost the MX-5?
    Perhaps what awaits them will be the same predicament that Mitsubishi is currently in.

    There are so many problems facing Mitsubishi Motors today that I don’t think one halo car is the silver bullet that will solve them.
    And the large amount of money needed to develop such a car will be a huge burden for them.
    But I do believe that the revival of cars like the Evo and Pajero will help Mitsubishi Motors to come back from this situation one day.

    Keep up the good work, Mitsubishi Motors.
    I’m not a fan of you guys now, but I loved you guys once. I believe that one day you guys will make me fall in love with you again.

  2. Mark F Newton-John says:

    Unfortunately, a lot of people talk about having sports coupes and performance sedans, but if everyone is buying SUVs, what is a CEO to do?
    Sure, if you’re making money hand over fist like Toyota, you can make the Supra and 86 and lose money on those because you sell millions of Siennas and Corollas.

  3. Alvin says:

    And Mitsubishi is wondering why they’re not selling anything? At this point in the US I keep forgetting they still make vehicles other than the occasional box truck. If Mitsubishi disappeared the only people disappointed would be fleet delivery truck buyers. They are the least important Japanese manufacturer in the US now at a distant 5th.

    How far the mighty has fallen.

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