Mitsubishi's Future Plans Include Hybrids, Major Model Overhaul
- Mitsubishi is making huge investments in capital, research and development that include vehicle redesigns and upgraded models.
- The decision to add a big, redesigned Mitsubishi Montero will be made later this year.
- Product plans include redesigned 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport, along with a big push in multimedia and telematics systems.
CHICAGO — Mitsubishi's future vehicle program includes a redesigned 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport, two plug-in hybrids and the possibility of a large SUV that would resurrect the Mitsubishi Montero name.
"We are committed to huge investments in capital as well as huge investments in R&D," Mitsubishi's Don Swearingen told Edmunds. Swearingen is executive vice president for sales and fixed operations at Mitsubishi Motors North America, Inc.
"With the way our company was structured and the financial conditions that we were in, we had to get ourselves (back) on solid ground" before making this commitment, he said during an interview at the 2014 Chicago Auto Show.
Mitsubishi is planning a product spree in the next several years.
Last November the automaker announced it is in talks with Nissan-Renault to co-develop a compact sedan and a replacement for the midsize Galant sedan that was dropped in 2012. A timetable has not been determined.
Swearingen said dealers have seen a drawing of the large crossover SUV Mitsubishi is considering for the United States. Called Montero, the vehicle would be a little smaller than the Ford Explorer. He said the vehicle would go on sale in the 2017 model year or later if approved for production. A decision will be made later this year.
Mitsubishi dropped the Montero from its U.S. line at the end of the 2006 model year.
Swearingen said sales for the Outlander plug-in hybrid will begin in the 2016 model year. An Outlander Sport plug-in hybrid is being considering, although the timeframe has not been determined.
"We are looking to extend the plug-in hybrid to other products," he said.
Here's a summary of Mitsubishi's vehicle plans through the 2017 model year. No changes are scheduled for the electric-powered i-MiEV during this period.
2015 model year: Several minor changes are slated for the Mitsubishi Mirage: turn signal indicators will be added to the outside mirrors; a shorter antennae will replace the tall antennae on the car's roof; a more premium fabric will be substituted, and chrome accents will be added to the instrument panel. A four-door sedan may join model line.
The 2015 Mitsubishi Outlander receives a freshening; the front and rear fascias will be restyled, as will the grille.
The Mitsubishi Lancer will receive outside mirrors with turn indicators.
Mitsubishi will replace the continuously variable transmission in the Outlander Sport with a new CVT. The transmission will improve acceleration and fuel economy, and it will be quieter than the current transmission. A 2.4-liter engine will be added for the 2015 model year, providing more horsepower and torque than the 2.0-liter engine.
"This will help us compete with other brands," Swearingen said.
2016 model year: Mitsubishi Mirage receives new sheet metal, giving the car a sleek, aerodynamic appearance.
The 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander adds a plug-in hybrid model. Sales originally were planned for fall 2013. However, due to the vehicle's success in Japan and Europe, Swearingen said the battery plant was unable to provide batteries for the additional market, the United States. The all-wheel-drive model will be able to run in pure electric mode for 40 miles, he said.
Additionally, all of the sheet metal from the windshield forward will be restyled on the 2016 Outlander, adopting the brand's new identity. Specifically, the grille, headlights and front fascia will be new, as will the hood and front fenders.
The 2016 Mitsubishi Lancer adds the new CVT and Mitsubishi's multimedia and telematics systems.
A redesign is planned for the 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport. Multimedia and telematics systems will be available.
"The key is being able to control many functions of your car through you cell phone," Swearingen said.
2017 model year: The Mitsubishi Mirage G4 sedan is under study for the U.S. line, powered by a turbocharged four-cylinder engine.
The 2017 Mitsubishi Outlander receives Mitsubishi's new multimedia and telematics systems.
Finally, if approved for production, the automaker's big new crossover SUV, the Mitsubishi Montero, will arrive in the 2017 or 2018 model year.
Edmunds says: Now that Mitsubishi is financially more secure, expect the Japanese automaker to play catch up with the major Japanese players, thus giving car shoppers even more choices.