By on April 10, 2013

Mitsubishi showcased the Mirage hatchback at the 2013 New York Auto Show. The Japanese car maker will put the vehicle on sale in America, but not India – a more natural market for a subcompact hatchback.

The Mirage is powered by a 1.2-litre, 3-cylinder gasoline engine which produces 74 HP and 100 Nm, mated to a 5-speed manual or CVT transmission. The 5-door hatchback uses re-enforced impact safety evolution body structure and comes with a host of features including 7 airbags, traction control, active stability control and a 140-watt sound system.

People in the USA don’t like to buy hatchbacks while it’s the exact opposite in India. In the Indian market, more than 70 percent cars sold are small cars. However Mitsubishi doesn’t sell the Mirage hatchback in India, where it sells only SUVs like the Pajero, Montero and Outlander. The company is struggling in India and it is surprising to see them not offer volume products in the Indian market, even after knowing there is demand for it. Do you think Mitsubishi has messed up its product planning in the past few years?

Faisal Ali Khan is the editor of MotorBeam.com, a website covering the automobile industry of India.a

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77 Comments on “Mitsubishi To Launch Mirage In USA But Not India...”


  • avatar

    Meh…

  • avatar
    eggsalad

    Hopefully, the Mirage will serve a purpose. So far, the A-class cars we’ve seen in the US have gotten inferior fuel economy to their B-class cousins. (See Spark/Sonic).

    If Mitsubishi can legitimately get the 37/44 MPG that they claim, it will change the whole market, and make more people consider A-class cars (if the other manufacturers can match what Mitsu has accomplished).

    If a Toyota, Honda, Ford or whatever A-class car could get 37/44, and at a comparable MSRP to this Mitsu, they would go flying off the lots.

    Problem is, this is a Mitsubishi. I don’t trust them, and neither do a lot of other people, so I doubt they’ll sell.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      Fuel economy is not really the point of cars like this. The point is that they are useful in an urban environment. Or you simply don’t need anything larger. Whether they get better fuel economy than the next size up is largely irrelevant. Most urban drivers don’t drive enough for a few mpg either way to make a bit of difference.

    • 0 avatar

      Part of Mirage’s success is the product it is, but just as important–and to largely overlooked–is it’s sales and marketing.

      As an owner of a ’97 Geo/Chevy Metro (4 cyl, 5 spd, 4 door), I’ve enjoyed 35 mpgs (42 Hwy). Not a thrill to drive, but at 191k mi: DOES NOT BURN OIL!!!, original clutch, cheep parts…I’m a HUGE fan of cars like this Mitsu already.

      But I firmly believe in what will make it a success: DEALERSHIP NETWORK AND MARKETING. The Suzuki had this through GM’s network of dealerships. If Suzuki had brought the “Swift” to the US with it’s pathetic marketing and dealership network…GM’s rebadged rendition–Geo Metro–would have NEVER had enjoyed the market share (nor the cultis following) it possesses today.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    The design team must have been seeing a “mirage” of its own if it thought this would sell. I understand that this is a low-cost car, but it couldn’t have cost that much more to give it cooler, more urban styling (a la Chevrolet Spark and Sonic, Ford Fiesta, and Kia Rio and Soul). At least those cars don’t look or feel as inexpensive as they actually are, and they actually try to provide owners with some or most of the creature comforts that larger vehicles have. But this just looks like a bad memory of the days when subcompact cars were plastic penalty-boxes.

    It is said that many consumers buy a particular car because of what it says about them. If that’s true, then this one certainly wouldn’t give its owner any compliments. It rather seems like this car is actively punishing customers to move to a smaller car, rather than enticing them to do so.

    Then again, who knows? This might be the start of America’s fuel-efficient future.

    But I seriously doubt it…

  • avatar
    Hummer

    Who?

  • avatar
    cargogh

    You know how when you see the designer sketches, and it’s a stunning rendering. But then the actual product comes out.
    I think Mitsubishi said screw it before it was sketched.
    Roll the safety and some color-key bumpers into a 1978 Mirage body and they’d have something. Even the MiEV has a slightly charming, shrunken Previa look to it.
    This is such a weak showing. The judges are holding up 1.0s and 1.5s. With 74 hp, appearance mattered.
    Sorry Mitsubishi; you’re outa here.

  • avatar
    WRohrl

    That is THE homeliest looking car since the ZipCar…If Mitsu is pinning its hopes on that, forget it.

  • avatar
    Onus

    I guess I’m the only one who would buy one.

    Then again I’m not out there to make people think I’m something I’m not by the car i drive.

    Currently i drive a rusted out, spray painted 23 year old pickup truck. Most people probably wonder what the heck I’m doing anyways. This would be a upgrade.

  • avatar
    thelaine

    This car says, “Mitsubishi has run out of money and so have I.”

  • avatar
    Dimwit

    Reading between the lines it would seem that Mitsu can’t make it cheap enough for the Indian market so will have to try and crack the US market. Good luck!
    Not going to happen but it gives the dealers something new to look at. They should at least bring in ones with attractive colours to beautify the showroom as they collect dust.

    • 0 avatar
      Spike_in_Brisbane

      In Oz they launched this with a TV ad showing the car in magenta. I thought it looked horrible but the majority I see on the roads (and that’s not many) are magenta. So either the TV advertising drives preference or the dealers only got the pink ones or Mitsubishi is successfully targeting the pink demographic.(Whatever that is!!) Any niche will do.

  • avatar
    Summicron

    1) Most first-worlders are are getting poorer every year. Cars like this make sense… maybe not this one but A-segs generally.

    2) For probably a billion other people on the planet acquiring one of these would be a family milestone and a glorious achievement.

    We gorge on steaks and scoff at rice cakes, but for how long?

    • 0 avatar
      Hummer

      You make an excellant case to stop sending aid to 3rd world countries, which I would support.
      If western Europe was able to become such a thriving civilization and branch off to many parts of the world, why can’t every other country that existed during that time period do the same, today we send them billions and they still can’t make 2+2 = 4 for them

      • 0 avatar
        Summicron

        “they still can’t make 2+2 = 4 for them”

        Unfortunately they’re pretty good at making 1+1=16. Just look at the photos of Indians or Pakistanis swarming over a bus or train car and I think you have a pretty good clue of the core problem in 3rd world societies.

        I personally have no sympathy for people who manage to destroy every chance for self-improvement by mindlessly reproducing, no matter where they live. I’m just saying that going lowball is pretty smart for a global automaker.

      • 0 avatar
        Luke42

        He may have been referring to the distribution if income in the first world. We’ve been becoming wealthier in aggregate, but rising tide has forgotten to lift a lot of boats.

        The Occupy people think that 99% have been missed. The real picture is more nuanced:

        …”income of households in the top 1 percent of earners grew by 275%, compared to 65% for the next 19 percent, just under 40% for the next 60 percent, 18% for the bottom fifth of households. “As a result of that uneven income growth,” the report noted, “the share of total after-tax income received by the 1 percent of the population in households with the highest income more than doubled between 1979 and 2007″…
        Source: http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Income_inequality_in_the_United_States#section_2

        So, yeah, there is an economic argument for 1990s poverty spec cars for most of us.

        I still have to finish my taxes to see how I’m doing – but at the beginning of the year, I was working a job with no prospect for a cost of living adjustment and I moved to a different job with much better pay and prospects – so, I personally feel like I changed from getting poorer to getting richer. My income also jumped from around the 75th percentile to at least the 85th percentile.

    • 0 avatar
      thelaine

      You make an excellent case for a reversal of the decline of the first world. If we can turn things around, we won’t have to drive these shtboxes and learn to like it, like grateful little socialist peasants.

      • 0 avatar
        Summicron

        “If we can turn things around”

        People vastly smarter and richer than us are pleased as punch at the way things are going and they only want to make matters worse.

        Sucks to be a small rat when the cage fills up.

        • 0 avatar
          thelaine

          Summicron there is nothing inevitable about the decline of the “first worlders.” It is the inevitable result of statist policy choices. If we make different choices, we can bring prosperity back.

          • 0 avatar
            Summicron

            @thelaine

            I want you to be right.

            But it’s 0219 hours as I look out the window to see what out forecast “wintry mix” will bring for my commute and stretch a back sore from shoveling white soup yesterday.

            Tried using my snowblower to see if it could throw that heavy glop… hilarious. Like spitting toothpaste.

          • 0 avatar
            thelaine

            I sure as hell hope you never stop commenting, Summicron.

    • 0 avatar

      Summicron, I’ve said it once, I say it twice, you my man are a poet at heart!

      As to car I think Mitsu is confusing North and South America. The car could do very well here. glorious family achievement and all.

      • 0 avatar
        Summicron

        Well, dang, thanks Marcelo.

        Yeah, I just don’t get the Mitsu-hate or the small-car hate. Hell, this is a brand new, shiny, warrantied, air-bagged, sure to be reliable motor vehicle and if the price is right people will get in line for it. But I agree with you on the NA/SA confusion. At least for right now….

    • 0 avatar

      @ Summicron. My sentiments exactly.

  • avatar
    mkirk

    Just give me a damn Yugo. At least I can paint a hammer and sickle on the roof for laughs.

  • avatar
    MrWhopee

    I think Mirage does not sell primarily because of its outdated, dowdy styling. Cute’s so 1990s. Remember that Japanese small cars used to be all like this? But they’ve all moved past that in subsequent redesign. The Mirage was launched in Indonesia about a year ago, and failed to gain a following, while other Mitsubishi products like the Pajero Sport and Outlander Sport are quite successful. In fact the Pajero sport, in particular, is wildly successful. So it’s not just the particular segment that’s important, but also the relative strength of the product in such segment.

    Why they think this would sell in the US where its segment isn’t even particularly large is beyond me.

    • 0 avatar

      Hey Mr Whopee!

      I think cute is much better than aggressive in small cars. Just saying.

      Now I agree, don’t think it can really hold its own in America. Sell it in Brazil. I can see this selling 5000 if the price is “competitive” and upwards of 10000 if the price is aggressive a la Nissan March. Heck, they even have a factory here. But no, they prefer to make there only PUs, trucks, and whatnot (besides some car or other for Suzuki). They will continue withering here too.

      • 0 avatar
        Luke42

        I just want There to be a car where the front looks like a machine, rather than a face.

        There is much #$%&&* Lightning McQueen in my house that I’d rather drive something that looks like a rail locomotive to work!

  • avatar
    Demetri

    If they could offer this for the right price, say 11,000 or less, it would make a lot sense financially for a lot of people. Unfortunately, most of those people aren’t interested in making sound financial judgements, so it doesn’t matter anyway. That said, I’d consider buying one, especially if I was still putting 12k miles per year on my car, but that’s only if it was cheap enough. I’ve heard some people saying it will be 13 grand, which isn’t good enough.

    “Do you think Mitsubishi has messed up its product planning in the past few years?”

    Considering they tried to sell the 2004 Galant for nearly 10 years, I would say that their product planning is beyond messed up.

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    Just think if Chrysler still owned it’s 25% of Mitsubishi that it owned back from the 70′s till the 90′s, this would be the new Dodge Colt.

  • avatar
    Mitsu_fan

    What I find really comical is that you have an article maybe 4 or 5 spots down that indicates that the Indian car market is not as strong as everyone thought and that it is on the decline as the result of rising fuel prices among other factors. Then you post an article that says Mitsubishi is not going to sell a car in a troubled market with a not so great economy and wonder why? Then you call out Mitsubishi as struggling in the Indian market, when mostly all automakers in that market are struggling, especially GM, as if Mitsubishi is the ONLY one struggling.

    TTAC never ceases to amuse!

    • 0 avatar
      WRohrl

      It does appear that the writers do not read what the other writers have written and that the “editor” does not seem to do much. It’s more like all the writers just are able to hit the “publish” button. The two articles with the “Rush” trailer from the other day come to mind as well…

    • 0 avatar

      And as commentators have pointed out in this article here, the Mirage is not coming to Brazil, Russia, Indonesia. Why? Why?

      How long will the Indian market be in trouble? When it gets going again it’ll get going with the force of rocket. Growing, getting richer population, a repressed market in the hundreds of millions, and a car that’s cut out for that won’t be available? Hummm, sounds like excellent strategic thinking. Yes, let’s continue to sell the Mirage in France and the US. That’s the way to go!

  • avatar
    Luke42

    “People in the USA don’t like to buy hatchbacks”

    Not quite. People in the USA don’t like poverty spec vehicles. 20 years ago, that was a hatchback penalty box. Now that we have some nice hatchbacks, their reputation is starting to improve.

    I’m a suburban dad, and I find sedans and coupes to he mostly useless… Hatchbacks are much better for my purposes. And then minivan is the king of practicality.

    I like small cars, but I’m not down with poverty spec. I prefer used cars over poverty spec.

    • 0 avatar
      cargogh

      Exactly. When my sister bought a new ’90 Mazda Protege LX, it had power windows, upgraded suspensions, DOHC, 5-spd, sunroof etc. I always liked hatchbacks, but the equivalent 323 hatchback was the most basic form. I never saw one available in anything that wasn’t like Honda’s DX version. Mazda was pretty popular then, and this was a very bad move on their part.

  • avatar
    thelaine

    I would love to hear someone compare this motorized roller skate to a Toyota Yaris or Honda Fit. Is it a good alternative because it will be significantly cheaper? If so, I guess I understand. Sometimes you just want to buy the cheapest new car on the market. Anything is better than taking the bus and not everyone is confident buying used. In any event, how in the hell Mitsu plans to make any money selling it, I have no idea. This is their North American comeback car? They are so doomed, it is ridiculous.

  • avatar
    Otterpops

    This car looks 12 years old.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    If this car does get in the 40s mpg and if it were priced at 10k or below for a stripped version it would sell. I would much rather have this than an all electric or hybrid subcompact because it would be cheaper to operate. There is a need for a stripped down urban commuter car that is easy to park, gets good mpgs, low maintenace and low cost of ownership, and that is basically a disposable car. I would much rather own something new that was inexpensive but reliable and get a new vehicle every 5 years than to buy a cheap high mileage car of questionable reliabilty. It is very easy to sink a thousand or more dollars into a high mileage used car and then have continuing problems. I would be interested in such a inexpensive car myself. Looks are subjective and this car might look a little boring but if you want to spend 20 to 30k on a car, why would most people buy a mini or subcompact car. The Toyota Corolla is boring but people buy it for its low cost of ownership and reliablity. Do any of you remember how Hyundai and Kia got started? Hyundai had the Excel then the Accent and Kia had a similiar car. Those cars were not that attractive either but people bought them as a disposable car.

    • 0 avatar
      thelaine

      Jeff S, I wonder if TTAC has ever done an article on the absolute cheapest new car on the planet to own and operate. I would like to see 5 years and 15k miles a year. Maybe this doomed little tin insect would prove to be a champ. I can relate to wanting to avoid the risk of buying used. There are many fearless TTACers out there, but I am not one of them, having been burned in the past. Still, if I was in the basic trans market, I would look at the Hyundai Accent or Kia Rio or Honda Fit. I wonder how much cheaper this car could be than those cars?

  • avatar
    otter

    Faisal,

    I thought the Indian market has begun to favor sedans over hatchbacks? Or is that only true for slightly higher market segments? E.g. above the segment that the been-around-a-million-years Maruti Suzuki was in. Is this where the Mirage would go?

    • 0 avatar

      Nope, Indian market still favours hatchbacks as they are much cheaper due to lower taxes of them. However Indians want a sedan as its a question of status. Mirage would go in the hatchback segment, rivalling Maruti Suzuki’s Swift, Volkswagen’s Polo, Nissan’s Micra, Honda’s Brio and Hyundai’s i20.

  • avatar
    flameded

    This just popped into my head when I first glanced at the photo.:
    “No. No, man. Shit, no, man. I believe you’d get your ass kicked drivin’ something like that, man.”

    “There is a need for a stripped down urban commuter car that is easy to park, gets good mpgs, low maintenace and low cost of ownership..”

    +1000

    This is probably not the car, however. There is a huge difference between cute and ugly. It’s all… disproportionate or something, just plain silly looking.

    JMO?..

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    @thelaine–That would be a great article for TTAC. I have had my share of used cars too. The worst being a 85 Mercury Lynx or as my mechanic, who I helped put his son through private school, called it the Escort wanabee. The 1991 Escorts and Tracers that replaced the prior Escorts were much better, at least they were based on a Mazda 323.

    @flameded–It depends on what you are comparing this car to. At least this car does not look like a Pontiac Aztec, Renault LeCar, AMC Pacer, Smart Car, or some of the early Japanese cars from the 70s. The design is boring but it is far from ugly. At the right price if this car is reliable it would not be too bad. Just because it has styling akin to a refigerator or an upright freezer doesn’t make it all bad and if the air conditioner were cold enough you could store your TV dinners, beers, and ice cream in it. I still have some Fridgedaire emblems left from my first refrigerator that was the last year for GM, 1979, the says “Fridgedaire a Product of GM” that would add a touch of class to this car. It could then pass for a Chevy Aveo.

  • avatar
    TMA1

    “Do you think Mitsubishi has messed up its product planning in the past few years?”

    Surely this is a rhetorical question.

  • avatar
    niky

    Are Mirage sales really that woeful? They’ve been doing near a thousand a month down here (or over), and that’s completely supply limited, because the waiting list is months long. Australian sales seem positive, given the size of the release, as are UK sales.

    This car is not pretty, but it’s cheap, has a roomy interior and gets great economy. A few cosmetic fixes to the face will really freshen it up enough to pass muster here.

    I wouldn’t read too much into Indonesian sales… that thar’ is pick-up country.

    The Mirage MUST go to India. This is one of its biggest markets. While they won’t be able to compete on price with Indian-made Marutis or Hyundais, opening up local production or a partnership would fix that.

    Even in a weak market, market share is market share. Jumping into a slumping market to take market share away from your competitors would be much to your advantage when (if) the market recovers.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    I don’t have any problems with this car, but after owning a 1985 Mitsubishi Mighty Max pickup years ago the parts were very expensive and hard to get and that was when my truck was only a couple of years old. Good truck but most parts had to be ordered thru Mitsubishi even when I ordered them thru a Dodge dealer (the Dodge D-50 was the twin of the Max). Maybe if the price were not too high and you did not keep it for more than a few years you might be ok but when you get into fuel pumps, starters, alternators, catalytic converters then you might have some problems with parts which were the ones that I had problems getting with the Max. Maybe that has changed but you do not see as many Mitsubishi dealers as you did several years ago and Chrysler no longer sells rebadged Mitsubishis. Otherwise it was a good truck that I drove for over 14 years with about 200k miles on the odometer.

  • avatar

    The Mirage is not intended to be an exciting car for dynamic people. It’s a transit appliance with push-button start, power windows, reasonable comfort for four adults and outstanding fuel economy. The only direct competition is the Spark, perhaps Smart Fortwo if they don’t pull out. If the rule about UK to US price translation holds, this car will retail close to $12000. On price the list expands to Fiesta and Versa if you can find a base model of either.

    Yes, it’s a first-time buyer car. Yes, it’s a car which will sell in the middling four digits. Yes, your boring uncle and mechanics will drive these. Yes, it’s terrible for your image. You would never pull up to the club in one.

    Nonetheless, it is distinctive in North America. If it’s reasonably comfortable and has a Monroney number close to 50 hwy, it will be Mitsu’s top seller the year it is released. With Mitsu’s modest dealer map, the Mirage will surely make money for each dealer moving a number of cars that will not shake the business pages. No one makes a truly cheap, simple motor. This is the only game in town if the price is right.

    Look at the Spark. Just look at it. It’s trying so hard to be something. The Mirage isn’t trying. It simply is. If the floor can be made truly flat with the seat folded or replaced with an aftermarket part, Mitsu has just introduced the replacement for the small delivery or parts runner Ranger.

    It won’t provide an avalanche of sales company wide, but it will sell to people who use their cars for transportation.

    I’m going to be shopping for my next transit appliance around 2016 or so, and Mirage is presently on the top of my list.

    • 0 avatar

      If you want a hatchback, there are other alternatives too, why Mirage, it looks so bland.

      • 0 avatar

        Blandness isn’t a bug, it’s a feature. Unlike its size competition in North America, Mirage doesn’t look like an aftermarket stereo or clothes from a store with “Dollar” in the name. The absence of style does not include blatantly insincere exclamation points. The styling that somehow does not manage to keep grown ups out of this end of the market is not in this car. Everyone over 40 who bought a Soul, xB or similar despite the style now has a car made for them. It’s just a little, presumably practical car.

        Unless it’s a maintenance nightmare, rusts in the morning mist, has a Monroney number closer to 30, and if they can get the word out to the masses Mitsu shall have a modest hit on their lots.

    • 0 avatar
      thelaine

      Excellent rational comment angrystan. At least I understand the car. A car that is extremely cost and space efficient is going to have its own ready market – and, most surprising to me-a fan base. Perhaps this is a great example of the type. If it really does come off the lot at 12 k, which I doubt, that will be cheap as hell for a new car. Still, I’m afraid Mitsu North America is screwed. Too tiny, too late. They are already dead. Someone just needs to sign the consent form. It is unfortunate, but they have starved it past the point of revival.

      • 0 avatar

        I agree that Mitsu NA is in dire straights. The only thing that could pull them out is a distinctive product for which an untapped market exists. Everybody else sells an off roader, soft roader, small family sedan and Evo isn’t exactly a mass market product.

        This is something in the corporate stable they can bring to the States and maybe, just maybe, save the biz. What else could they do?

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    @angrystan–I agree with your assessment about this car. It is about as basic transportation as you can get with added electric windows and doors. There is a demand for a car like this. Granted for those who have their identity wrapped up in their car or maybe if they are in sales and taking clients out in their car this would not be the car for them. I myself usually take the bus to work and park my vehicle at the park and ride. I have not had too many people ask me what I drive and for the most part who really cares. If the vehicle is safe, reliable, and economical and I am using it to commute and run errands then what difference does it make. Mitsubishi has nothing to lose with this car and everything to gain. This is an underserved market which needs to be exploited. Even with my experience with Mitsubishi parts I would be interested in one of these, I just would probably not keep it for 10 years, maybe 5 years. There is a market for a disposable car that you can get reliable service for a few years and then you replace it. The looks are not that bad, maybe a little boring but the same could be said for the Toyota Corolla and look how many of those are sold. There is nothing wrong with an appliance like econobox that is affordably priced.


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