Mitsubishi: No “Next Gen” For i-MiEV. Will Focus On PHEVs In US Market
In the wake of the bankruptcy of American Suzuki Motor Corp., a lot of focus of has been put on the perceived next weakest player in the US auto market, Mitsubishi.
For its part, Mitsubishi says it has “no intention” of leaving the US. Quite the contrary actually.
After seeing its US lineup thin over the past several years, Mitsubishi says two new product offerings will finally hit the dealerships in 2013, and the company expects to increase sales by 45%.
It is worth noting that a 45% increase would only be about 80,000 vehicles (Mitsu is estimated to sell about 55,000 this year), and that would still be down significantly from the 345,111 they sold in the US just 10 years ago.
Leading the Mitsubishi-revival will be the redesigned Outlander in July, and the company will also start importing the Mirage in September.
What will not be helping Mitsubishi re-establish itself in the US market is the i-MiEV.
About a month ago, we wrote that Mitsubishi Motors president, Osamu Masuko seemed to be distancing the company from the i-MiEV. And even though at the time he was blaming poor i-MiEV sales on everything from the economy in Europe to the high currency trade on the Yen, Mr. Masuko seemed like he was signalling the end was coming.
While speaking about Mitsubishi US comeback plan to Automotive News, the Mitsu boss said Mitsubishi no longer plans a successor to the current i-MiEV, and that the company feels that traditional hybrids and plug-in hybrids will now take the stage over pure electric vehicles.
“Rather than EVs, we have greater expectations for plug-ins in the United States.”
The i-MiEV has sold 469 copies this year in the US, and despite a recent push by Mitsubishi to promote the car, including a reduction of the lease rate to peak customer’s interest, Mitsubishi has failed to sell at least 40 i-MiEVs in any of the past 5 months.
Mr. Masuko said that the Outlander plug-in hybrid crossover, with an expected all-electric range of about 22 miles (EPA), will go on sale in the US in January of 2014, and also that the new Mirage will get the electric vehicle treatment, but not to expect it in the US. (we will see the gas version in September of 2013)
While we lament the loss of any electric vehicle, considering the amount of competition that is present (and en route) to the US market, the ultra-small, and not-so-cheap i-MiEV really did not have much of a future here, so we feel Mitsubishi’s decision is a good one.