Mitsubishi Motors Is Still Focused on EV Development
Mitsubishi Motors has been a mystery over the last year. There have been many tidbits of news that have made many come to the conclusion of the renewal of the Lancer Evolution, or a similar vehicle model. We came to the same conclusion, and we’re sad to say that it isn’t happening. After the revival of the Ralliart team, the high-performance Mitsubishi Motors Corp (MMC) subsidiary responsible for the Lancer Evolution, there was definitely a lot of hype. The hype died last month, June 2021, during a Mitsubishi shareholders meeting, where Ralliart was said to be more accessory-focused, and upcoming electric vehicle (EV) development is taking up the majority of finances.
“Electrification costs a lot of development, and we still don’t have enough strength as a company. We put out a big deficit in the previous fiscal year, so we want to revive the company first and then put out a little car that fans are waiting for.” – translated via Google Translate from Japanese publication Response by way of Japanese Nostalgic Car
Okay, so that’s something. Everyone, even shareholders, were asking about the return of the EVO, but it’s not happening, and we’re all feeling the blues at this point. Ralliart as a purely accessory name doesn’t feel right, and although the team will be building a catalog for a wide range of models, the pictures we have seen (below) don’t say much. Instead, the focus of Mitsubishi Motors is on electrification. Let’s take a look at that track record.
This electric vehicle actually did very well, we’re not knocking it at all. The Mitsubishi i-Miev was the first highway-capable all-electric vehicle to hit the market. Just a year after Tesla, and the initial popularity of Elon may have driven attention away, because the i-Miev was discontinued in 2017. Much of the success has been seen in its home country of Japan, with the launch of a commercial vehicle service, the Minicab MiEV, released in 2011, with over 1,000 units in operation. Even after the discontinuation, the i-Miev continued to sell until all units were bought up.
Clearly there was a market for this electrified minicar. As Mitsubishi Motors continued to develop green powertrains, the Outlander PHEV was launched in 2013. Soon to be a decade old, Mitsubishi has played with the idea of replacing the plug-in hybrid SUV with newer models, despite its still growing popularity. The first concept launched was the Engelberg Tourer, revealed at the 2019 Geneva International Motor Show. This disappeared after a year.
In the same year, the Mitsubishi Mi-Tech was the next contender, and it actually seemed like a winner. A new platform, the Mi-tech was revealed at the 2019 Tokyo Motor Show. Built with a gas turbine engine, the powertrain was already something unique, but in contrast to the Outlander PHEV, which has an electric motor powering each axle, the Mi-Tech has an electric motor powering each wheel. An actual advancement that wasn’t just aesthetics (Engelberg), the Mi-tech could have replaced the Outlander PHEV, but it also disappeared with all the cancelled auto shows in 2020.
Not to worry – we’re still waiting on the vehicle Mitsubishi Motors is supposed to be releasing after being named the leader of the new business strategy of the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance in May 2020. There is also a lot of upcoming technology with new electric powertrains by Renault and Nissan. There is plenty of cross-branding sharing with tech, platforms, and even whole models. It’s true, Mitsubishi will be rebranding a Renault model for its lineup in Europe, maybe in the U.S., too. There is a lot left to see here – it’s just not the Lancer Evolution.
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