- Mitsubishi is producing a special-edition 2014 Mirage to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Hello Kitty.
- The special edition features bright pink paint and unique Hello Kitty flourishes, inside and out.
- The Hello Kitty Mirage will only be available in Japan.
TOKYO — Mitsubishi is producing a special-edition 2014 Mirage compact car to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Hello Kitty.
But even if the bright pink paint job and unique Hello Kitty flourishes sound like your cup of sake, don't rush down to the local Mitsubishi dealer. Only 400 of the special-edition models will be produced and they're all slated for delivery in Japan. The price: about $13,400.
And — further disappointment for fans of the iconic cartoon character — a Mitsubishi spokesman told Edmunds: "At this time, we do not have any plans of releasing this model in the U.S."
In addition to the flamboyant paint treatment, the exterior of the limited edition is highlighted with bow-themed wheel covers and Hello Kitty appliqués, while the interior features special upholstery and even includes a Hello Kitty pillow.
If that's not enough, buyers may add a Hello Kitty exhaust tip, license-plate frame, steering wheel cover, sun shade or air freshener, all available from various aftermarket suppliers or from the official Sanrio Web site that handles all manner of HK merchandise.
Sanrio, a Japanese firm specializing in pop culture products, launched Hello Kitty in 1974. Since then the character has become a worldwide sensation, appearing in animated cartoons and popping up on everything from lunch boxes to jewelry to Airbus A330-200 jetliners.
Mitsubishi recognized the value of this explosive phenomenon even before the 2014 Mirage special edition. In 2006, the company created a one-off "Princess Kitty" version of its tiny "kei" car, the Mitsubishi i, also dressed in pink and festooned with Hello Kitty stickers and bows, which it displayed at a Tokyo department store and later sold to raise funds for charity.
And Mitsubishi isn't the only auto manufacturer to recognize a marketing opportunity in the popular feline. In 2010 Smart USA partnered with Sanrio to introduce Hello Kitty wraps for its Smart Fortwo. Part of the company's Smart Expressions program, which allows owners to customize their vehicles with easily applied vinyl wraps, the Hello Kitty treatment included kitty faces, bows, logos and lots of pink.
Edmunds says: The entire world seems to be littered with the Kitty.