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.