By on March 2, 2011

When you think of Mitsubishi, what do you think of? Chances are, one of the first things that runs through your mind when Mitsubishi gets a mention, is the turbocharged, AWD, rally-car-for-the-road Lancer Evolution series. For decades now, the Evo has provided Mitsu with some desperately-needed sense of identity, although it never really reflected a brand philosophy the way Subaru’s WRX/STI series did for its AWD lineup. And now, it seems, Mitsubishi is done trying to build a brand on a rally replica. Autocar‘s Matt Prior recently sat down with Motsu’s global product director Gayu Eusegi, and he heard some rather jarring news:

The Lancer Evolution X, Eusegi told me, will be the last Evo. “There is still a demand [for the car],” he said, “but we must stop.” Eyebrow up.

“Our influence now is EV technology,” Eusegi said, adding that the decision was a “policy change”.

It seems Mitsubishi, which is going to introduce eight full electric or hybrid cars by 2015, has decided its image is about lowering CO2, not making lurid replicas of rally cars that don’t go top-level rallying any more.

Eusegi said that customers would find it “easier to understand” what Mitsubishi was about if it was no longer in this motorsport-inspired market.

Eusegi goes on to apparently confirm that the Evo X will be the last of the line, until such time as rally racing goes electric. Which means  that if you’ve always wanted to buy a new Evo, you might want to think about picking one up soon. After all, an EV-heavy strategy may not be the silver bullet for Mitsubishi, but the Lancer Evolution has had its chance at playing halo. Change can be painful, but it is the only constant… and Mitsu has to evolve or die. Even if that means the Evolution dies first.

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25 Comments on “Mitsubishi: Evo Out, EVs In...”


  • avatar
    philadlj

    I don’t blame them for wanting to try something new…but they should understand that it’s not the Evo’s fault Mitsu is floundering. Its totally outdated, outclassed crap like the Normal Hat Trick that really bog them down. Not to geek out here, but flanking the Evo with the likes of the Galant, Eclipse and Endeavor was like casting a little kid in Star Wars Episode I: nothing good ever came of it, and it ruined the brand for many. Mazda, meanwhile, did a better job infusing fun and sportiness in practically their whole line, rather than concentrating all their resources on perfecting one niche vehicle. The Miata continues to evolve, but the other Mazdas don’t suffer for it.

    • 0 avatar

      Jake Lloyd did a good job and boomers clinging to the nostalgia about the Star Wars of their youth will go to their graves pretty soon hopefuly.

    • 0 avatar
      B.C.

      @Pete Zaitcev: Jake Lloyd did do whatever he could with the material, child actor or not.  (Liam Neeson, Hayden Christensen, Natalie Portman likewise.)  George Lucas delivered a steaming pile of manure, and I (and my wallet) thank him for curing me of my Star Wars fanboyism.

  • avatar
    twotone

    I had a mid-90′s Mits 3000 VR4 that was a lot of fun for a couple of years. Looks like the Evo is headed down the same path. Neither car determined the character of Mitsubishi like the Z cars did for Nissan. The one pictured in the illustration looks pretty cool, but get rid of the front license plate.

  • avatar
    rustyra24


    This could be a big mistake on Mitsubishi’s part but they definitely need to try something new to lure buyers back to their car company. I also think that every car company needs some type of sports car. They are already axing the Eclipse (which wasn’t very cool anyways), They should keep the Evo just make it a hybrid.

  • avatar
    stryker1

    I guess the house must be on fire if they have to kill the only recognizable car they sell in order to have enough resources to redo their other flops.

    • 0 avatar
      SVX pearlie

      IMO, this is the beginning of the end.

      For what it is, the Evo is Mitsu’s only truly competitive car, competitive with the best in the world.

      Mitsu is an also-ran in the EV world, not even selling the Miev in the US.

      I think we’ll see Mitsu leave the US in 2 years.

      • 0 avatar
        mmnaworker2

        I think we’ll see Mitsu leave the US in 2 years.
         SVX pearlie: You do realize they have a contract until 2015 ?? Plus they are going to start building the Outlander Sport possibly next year.Yes..Here in Normal,Illinois U.S.A
        People have been saying “Mitsubishi will leave the USA” for about 15 years now!!! Gee,sooner or later you might get it right!!Then they will say “see,i told you they would leave” ..Pathetic!

    • 0 avatar
      Ion

      Well they still have the Eclipse, Galant and Endeavor as recognizable nameplates.
       
      ….oh wait.

  • avatar
    SupaMan

    Definitely saw something like this coming.
     
    When the EVO X was introduced I’m pretty sure I wasn’t the only one to think that the rest of their products would pickup some of the Evo’s aggressive lines and demeanor. But with the entire North American product line (Endeavor, Eclipse, Galant) being axed due to age and generally being uncompetitive, should the Evolution (the one bright spark in the lineup) be the one to take the fall?
    Mitsubishi is floundering here and it’d be interesting to see where THIS plan goes.

    • 0 avatar
      mmnaworker2

      Supaman: We are all waiting to see where this “plan” goes. We start building the Outlander Sport in the near future.Building one car here in the USA will not be enough,so i hope they come out with more of a “plan” soon.Wish us luck.

  • avatar
    ponchoman49

    23 MPG highway performance cars like this have very numbered days ahead, especially with gas a hand shake away from 4.00 per gallon. I can’t believe Mitsu has survived in NA this long with it’s other stale outdated products, especially the 9 year old Galant.

  • avatar
    Brock_Landers

    Makes me nostalgic. Evo’s had even more of a cult following in Europe and were totally iconic in Japan. Maybe the epitomy of the series was EVO6 Tommi Makinen Edition and Evo7 FQ400. The days of buying a race car homologation special form the dealership ready for everyday road use are coming to an end. FIA homologation rules changed dramatically after mid nineties, and after that there was no reason for the manufacturer to produce a larger quantity of homologation specials for public sale. It all began with Cosworth Sierras, turbo quattro Audis and E30 M3′s, in Japan there was GTR and ofcourse STI/Evo etc. Now when these days are long gone manufacturers misleadingly still use those legendary names to promote their image. Current fat, heavy, safe, numb machines that bare the same exciting letters M, RS, STI, Evo, GTR have totally different DNA from their race-bred forfathers. Only production car that comes to mind that has stayed true to its racing roots from the beginning is Porsche 911 with GT/RS series models.

  • avatar
    L'avventura

    While I question Mitsubishi’s motive to abandon the last vehicle in their lineup that has an over-reaching brand image for them, the move to EV’s is the right move for Mitsubishi as it plays directly into their strengths.
     
    Quite simply, Mitsubishi is a powerhouse in raw materials mining as acquisition.  While Mitsubishi Motors is struggling, the rest of the keiretsu are full steam ahead with lithium and rare earth mines.  And alternative projects such as rare earth recovery via recycling and new motors that don’t require rare earth minerals.
     
    Mitsubishi has the vertical infrastructure to build EVs, from the lithium mine to the consumer, that few companies posses.  Just as importantly, the Mitsubishi group isn’t cash strapped, they have massively powerful financial arm in keiretsu (Mitsubishi UFJ) which is the world’s second largest bank holding company, that can fund a lot of ambitious EV projects.
     
    It would be wise for Mitsubishi to quickly make an sporty halo EV car to replace the Evo.  Variants of the Mitsubishi i, like the iMiev, or any small kei sporty car variant has little resonance outside of Japan.

  • avatar
    thesource

    “Change can be painful, but it is the only constant… and Mitsu has to evolve or die.”  I’ll add another one, “if you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything”.  As already pointed out, Mitsu’s model line-up seemed non-cohesive – here in the U.S. - while it chased market trends.  Chasing the Green agenda could be the last trend it pursues in the U.S., but globally, it’s a direction that has caught on, especially in Asia, where Mitsubishi gets almost half its sales from.

  • avatar
    Acubra

    EVs and eco-friendliness is currently a huge hype in Japan. Heck, some overly eco-conscious companies even practiced air-conditioning shutdowns in the midst of summer!
    So no surprise they are eager to jump on a bandwagon – campaining is habitual for Japan.

    It seems that Japanese companies with relatively little international exposure and few foreigners on board of honchos (MMC, FHI, Suzuki…) are like small kingdoms. In a long-standing Japanese traditions decisions of the management are never discussed or questioned, and are considered orders, however controversial they are.
    So in the end we get yet another wonderfully disoriented decision of MMC management.

    Excellent Euro/JDM Galants of 1997-03 are killed.
    Montero/Pajero have never been marketed properly and dissappeared from NA, their potentially main market.
    Quirky Delica has never been tried outside of Japanese market.
    GTO – killed
    Eclipse grew to become an aging model losing fight with cellulite.
    L200 could have become a truly small truck wonder in NA – but never happened.
    And so it goes on and on.

    EVO now – one step closer to the grave – or a merger of “equals”.

  • avatar
    Advance_92

    I’m not surprised; the Evo/STI are going down the same path trod by the Supra, RX7, 3000 and 300ZX.
     
    That said if I could find an IX that hadn’t been messed with too much (yes, I know there’s probably no such thing) it would be nice to have used.  Back in 04 when I was car shopping I just couldn’t see spending $30k for one.

  • avatar
    akatsuki

    Well Mitsu, you’ve now killed the only product of yours I would even consider.
    If the rest of your line-up wasn’t so absolutely terrible, maybe you would actually be able to sell cars. Hell, the Pajero always did well in Dakar, but did you see Mitsu make any mention of that? Of course not, because the craptastic Galant is all they wanted to sell.

  • avatar
    mnm4ever

    Meh, I always liked the STI better anyway.  Mitsu and Suzuki should pair up, they are both not long for this world as they are now…

  • avatar

    Killing Evo == Mitsu Seppuku

  • avatar
    GS650G

    Mitsui survived providing drive-lines for others, complete cars for DCX, now after the financing debacle a few years ago they decide to do this. Mitsubishi is one of the largest companies there is, they even have their own bank, but no one thinks of them as a EV company, and no one will.

  • avatar
    Doc

    Unfortunately, I think that Mitsu has bought in to all of the hype about EV’s. This is the wrong technology at the wrong time and the only ones excited about them are politicians.
    A change of strategy might be good for Mitsu, but this out of the frying pan and…

  • avatar
    dm123

    Bye bye Mitsubishi…


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