By on December 18, 2016

2014 Mitsubishi i-MiEV, Image: Mitsubishi

After inking the deal that brought Mitsubishi Motors under his corporate umbrella, Nissan-Renault chairman Carlos Ghosn said the acquisition would have a “massive” impact on the struggling automaker.

By sharing the alliance’s technology, platforms and engines, Mitsubishi can look forward to a brighter, product-filled future, he claimed. Full integration is still years away, but a new report sheds some light on the first all-new product born of the $2.29 billion deal.

According to Nikkei (via Reuters), the alliance takeover means a new green vehicle for Mitsubishi. The newspaper claims the all-electric model will borrow the platform and powertrain of the next-generation Nissan Leaf.

That’s good news for Mitsubishi, as the company’s current electric car is anything but hot. Small, odd-looking, and sporting an estimated 59 miles of range, the diminutive i-MiEV hatchback can’t compete with the robust, long-range rivals entering the EV market. The model returns for 2017, just so Mitsubishi can keep an EV in its lineup.

If you’re thinking of scoring a $23,845 i-MiEV, expect to find yourself in a club with few members. Sales of the awkward EV totaled 91 units in the U.S. during the first 11 months of 2016. Mitsubishi sold five of them in November, four in October.

When we’ll see this new model is up for debate. Last week, Renault-Nissan announced that the next-generation Leaf and Renault Zoe would share the same platform, but the company wasn’t in the mood to discuss specifics. The alliance’s senor vice president, Arnaud Deboeuf, said the shared-platform EVs would appear sometime after the Leaf’s 2018 refresh. French newspaper Les Echos said the vehicles wouldn’t appear before 2020.

That timeline doesn’t exactly jibe with earlier reports, which hinted at a new, long-range Leaf arriving in 2018. The Nikkei report mentions the same date for the launch of the new EVs. Hopefully, we’ll hear official word at next month’s Consumer Electronics Show or North American International Auto Show.

According to Nikkei, by sharing a platform, motor, inverter and battery, the new Leaf should see its price drop by one-fifth. With these components on hand, Mitsubishi could sell a new, much longer-ranged vehicle at a competitive price point, and send the unloved i-MiEv behind the barn.

Whether or not the future Mitsubishi adopts the four-door hatchback bodystyle of its corporate siblings is another mystery. Automotive News speculates that the i-MiEV’s replacement could take on a crossover bodystyle.

[Image: Mitsubishi Motors]

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33 Comments on “Renault-Nissan Takeover Gives Mitsubishi a Chance to Dump Its Most Embarrassing Product...”


  • avatar

    Great. Two mediocre get-me-done offerings under one roof. Maybe they can swap subprime lead lists?

    On a semi-serious note, not sure what either can offer one another in North America. Does Mitsubishi really need more product? They don’t even sell well what they offer right now and they have shed much of the dealer network in the past decade. I really don’t think America needs another tinny midsizer with standard wheelcovers (Altima), nor does Mitsubishi benefit from Nissan’s poorly-styled and even chintzier subcompacts. I also believe the Outlander/Outlander Sport are at lest better looking and arguably better-assembled than the Rouge.

    • 0 avatar
      indi500fan

      Better “cost cuttin’ Carlos” than Big Serge.
      They may at least have a shot at continuing to limp along.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      Flybrain,
      I believe Mitsubishi has a couple of vehicles that might sell in the US.

      The first is the Triton pickup. This vehicle would be impossible to import, which is a pity.

      The second is the Pajero Sport. This is a full chassis SUV (4hi & lo) based on the Trton pickup.

      Both are well enough built and would offer attractive entry vehicles in their segments for your market. They are well appointed for their price.

      • 0 avatar
        JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

        Damn, its too bad Mitsubishi didn’t have a U.S. plant to produce the Triton in. One they closed instead.

        Solution to every problem: truck made outside NAFTA.

        And 25% does not equal impossible, just less profitable.

        • 0 avatar
          DenverMike

          It’s not as if Mitsu didn’t sell pickups in the US before. The chicken tax was fully in force then too. So what’s the difference? Suddenly they can’t make them profitable??

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            DenverMike,
            To make the Triton in the US Mitsubishi need a market of 100k a year. Even VW made this assessment for the production of the Amarok.

            If it can’t have 100k production it IS not viable to produce in the US.

            So allow the importation of up to 75k a year. Simple way to solve the Chicken Tax.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            So answer the question: What’s changed since the days when Mitsubishi could sell a pickup in the US and also clear a healthy profit? Same with Mitsu sports cars and luxury, like the 3000GT, Eclipse, Galant, Diamante, etc?

            Why don’t you cry for those and also claim *conspiracy*??

            There’s a long list of cars VW happily refuses to offer for sale in the US. Why is the Amarok any different? VW does have to *offer* excuses as to why there’s no US Amarok.

            So you honestly think VW can say consumers and stockholders: ‘Cause we don’t wanna???

        • 0 avatar
          Big Al from Oz

          John,
          I think you have the wrong idea about profitable.

          A better way is to say the Chicken Tax makes them uncompetitive. This makes them NOT profitable as opposed less profitable.

      • 0 avatar
        Big Al From 'Murica

        They sold (or tried) to sell the Pajero here as the Monterey years ago. Not sure what you think has changed in the market since then to make it a winner other than a move away from full frame SUV’s

        As to the Triton Iif they don’t want to do all in they could build it Sprinter style in the US.

        The biggest obstacle to both of these is the Mitsubishi badge on the grill. The brand is crap here and driving one announces to the world you have a 540ish credit score. They would be better doing an 80’s style rebadge and selling the Pajero as an entry level real Jeep and the Triton as a new Dakota which tells the world you have a 610ish credit score.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

      Flybrian, I’m forced to agree, although I wish I could say otherwise.

      However, on the whole, Mitsubishi seems better in some ways, just under funded as of late especially. I would hope that maybe this will lead to better, or at least significantly different choices.

      I know, I know, I’m not looking forward I to a rebadged Altima with goofy Mitsubishi styling any more than you are. But maybe that will be in the short term and in the long term, it’ll lead to better cars.

      Frankly, neither of them build highly attractive and desirable mainstream cars. At least, not lately. If you reach into the history books, both have had a few models worth having. I saw a 1995 Mitsubishi Mighty Max at a friends house today. It, the Hardbody and the old Datsun trucks were all good little quintessential Japanese small trucks.

      Little pickups aside, as that is a dead segment, they have both achived greatness with some cars over the years: the Z, SX, GT-R (including the old Skyline based cars we didn’t get) the 810/Maxima of certain years, the 1st and 2nd gen Eclipse, the earlier 510, Galant VR4, these were long ago, I know.

      but let’s hope they will have a positive influence on each other. Hell, with some funding, maybe Mitsubishi could become a desirable, sporty brand again.

      Even if it becomes the Japanese Pontiac, we may get a few decent ones out of the rental/”everyone approved” car lot fodder.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      @Flybrian

      Mitsu will go electric, watch and see.

      Oh and they will also offer a new generation Aurora too /s…?

  • avatar
    pdog_phatpat

    ‘Renault-Nissan Takeover Gives Mitsubishi a Chance to Dump Its Most Embarrassing Product’

    Your Mom?

  • avatar
    Joss

    Probably trying to position the alliance for the likes of autonomous euro city taxi fleet. Read Paris city car ban. And whatever else may be coming that way.

  • avatar
    cargogh

    They can yank the heavy batteries and shove in the Sentra SR turbo’s engine and manual trans for a Mitsubishi MiSR turbo.

  • avatar
    Pete Zaitcev

    I’m somewhat surprised that Mitsubishi manages to continue making i, because that’s the only way to make i-MiEV, isn’t it? They have co-developed the next kei-car with Nissan a couple of years ago and it should have taken over i’s production by now.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      Pete,
      Nissan and Mitsubishi have been working together for some time now.

      They have been sharing forward control truck platforms and car platforms.

      These vehicles were mainly for the S/SE Asian markets and Gulf Arab nations.

      I believe FCA has missed an opportunity not buying Mitsubishi. FCA will find it harder to find another manufacturer it could afford with a potential market and technology transfer as large as Mitsubishi.

      I think FCA not buying Mitsubishi will be the end of FCA.

      • 0 avatar
        Notmyname

        I think FCA is more interested in someone buying them, then buying someone else.

      • 0 avatar
        JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

        BAFO:
        What does any of that have to do with the i?
        He knew Mitsubishi and Nissan worked together.
        He said as much.

        You’re just jacking his comment thread and that’s a shame, because his question is far more interesting than your dribble.

        As I like Kei cars, finding one for sale here is, uh, great. Except that it is that horrible thing. The chance something better may replace it is good news.

        Except that now it seems that it will be replaced here not with a better (read: more interesting, less ugly) electrified Kei vehicle, but with a Nissan LEAF derivative insead.
        yaaay

  • avatar
    OldManPants

    Frak, even I, lover of all things tall and cab-dominant, find the i-MiEV’s crash test videos grim.

    Otherwise I adore it’s form factor.

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Denver

      Doesn’t look bad to me:

      • 0 avatar
        OldManPants

        Can’t get your link to work from the sidebar but this is NCAP’s assessment:

        “Adult occupant :
        Inspection of the i-MiEV after the frontal impact showed that several structures had reached the limit of their load- bearing capacity. The passenger compartment was judged to be unstable as the vehicle might not be able to withstand an impact at a higher speed. As a consequence, the score for the driver’s chest was penalised and protection of this body region was rated as marginal.

        Most of the floor in the driver’s footwell was heavily distorted and this too was penalised, leading to a marginal rating for protection of the driver’s feet and ankles. Structures in the dashboard posed a risk of injury to the knees and femurs of both the driver and passenger.

        In the side barrier impact, the driver’s door opened and the car was penalised, although dummy readings showed protection was at least adequate. However, in the more severe side pole test, dummy readings of rib compression indicated poor protection of the chest.”

        • 0 avatar
          shaker

          “penalised”

          NAE! “Fooked” Actually.

          This vehicle is endorsed by Colonial Penn Insurance, as it serves as a coffin, reducing funeral expenses.

          • 0 avatar
            OldManPants

            I’m old; I’d risk it with a gas engine instead of the microwave motor.

            I saw one i-MiEV locally and loved it.

          • 0 avatar
            shaker

            “I’m old; I’d risk it with a gas engine instead of the microwave motor.”

            This?

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tata_Motors#/media/File:Tata_Nano_im_Verkehrszentrum_des_Deutschen_Museums.JPG

            Click right arrow to get the Tata BOLT!

          • 0 avatar
            OldManPants

            Look at that “grille” on the Nano. Somewhere in Thirdworldia peoples be missin’ they return registers.

  • avatar
    eggsalad

    I’m not sure Mitsubishi actually sells any i-MIEV in the US at this point. Cars.com lists 6 available nationwide, 3 of which are 2016s.

    According to goodcarbadcar.net, Mitsubishi has sold exactly *91* total I-MIEV nationwide in Calendar year 2016.

    Anyhow, how can you even begin to compare it to a $9000 used Nissan Leaf?

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    The only time I rode in an i-MiEV was at an Electric Car Week event. Compared to my Leaf, it was really spartan.

  • avatar
    shaker

    The i-MiEV should be restricted to Neighborhood Electric Vehicle status.

  • avatar
    Big Al From 'Murica

    …And the subprime lenders rejoiced.


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