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Report: Mitsubishi to Introduce New Lancer First in US

Nikkei. Mitsubishi Motors will launch its remodeled Lancer in March 2007, with sales beginning in the US first. This will be the first time that the company has debuted an internationally strategic vehicle in a market other than Japan.

This will be the first full model change for the Lancer since May 2000. The new model will likely have an engine displacement of 1.5 to 2.4 liters, according to the report. The current 2006 Lancer sold in the US offers a choice of 2.0-liter and 2.4-liter engines. The Japanese model offers a 1.5-liter engine.

The company has used a Lancer Evolution as a testbed electric vehicle for Mitsubishi’s MIEV in-wheel motor technology. (Earlier post.)

Beginning with the new Lancer, Mitsubishi is adopting a policy of introducing vehicles first to regions where it anticipates greatest demand. The company aims to sell 50,000 vehicles a year in the US, where it will compete in the compact category.

Mitsubishi Motors will likely introduce the vehicle in Japan in the fall of 2007, about six months after the start of marketing in the US.

Comments

Sid Hoffman

This is Mitsubishi's last chance at staying in business in the USA. Their sales are on a track to hit zero by about 3 years from now if they don't have a major turnaround. Given the increased popularity of small cars in the US, this provides some hope.

Patrick

I believe only the Mirage/Colt version in Japan offers the 1.5L engine. The Lancer Cedia does offer GDI engines in Japan though.

The new Lancer is most likely to be offered with either the 1.8L or 2.0L motor jointly developed with Daimler/Chrysler and Hyundai.

If they would have cut the fat off of it I'm sure it would have sold better. The 97 to 2001 Mirage 4-door (which the lancer replaced) with a 5spd weighed in at about 2450-2500lbs. The 2002+ Lancer with a 5spd weighs roughly 2800lbs. Although the new lancer is structurally stiffer and performs better in crash tests it put on a LOT of weight and the engine is only slightly heavier (the 4G94 2.0L has a slightly taller deck height versus the 4G93 1.8L from the Mirage...otherwise they are nearly identical and both cars use the same 5FM42 tranny...the Lancer's drivetrain is only ~10lbs heavier).

Charles S

"Given the increased popularity of small cars in the US, this provides some hope."

It's hard to say... Small cars in US should never really considered "popular" with Americans, but rather a stable category. Small cars are never "popular" enough to deserve a Premium/Luxury branding. It's usually a category for the poor, the practical, the frugal; really not a money-maker for the US automotive market.

In today's market, there may be a higher demand for smaller cars, but it doesn't mean that the public have a "desire" for one. So qualities such as brand loyalty, quality-perceptions, price, and fuel usage would end up a bigger factor in sales than "kewl" factor that sold Eclipses and Evolutions in the past.

The plain vanilla Lancer faces an uphill battle. Toyota and Honda dominate in brand recognition. Korean makers compete in prices, and Mitsu can't expect to sell every Lancer as a Evo... which would certainly help...

For me, I'd have more interest in the "i" and any EV Mitsubishi would make. But such will require a great deal of investment that Mitsubishi can't afford... too bad...

Cervus

One of the major issues with cars in general is that they have increased so much in weight. This is partially due to increased safety regulations. All those airbags. But it's also a market-driven demand for more interior room, better materials, and more features like power windows that are now practically standard.

I still see older Honda Accords on the road. An '85 Accord is smaller than my '05 Corolla.

Sid Hoffman

An 85 Accord is likely heavier, more polluting, WAY less safe, slower, and no better in interior volume than a Toyota Yaris sedan or Honda Fit hatchback. Cars have come a long way.

Patrick

Power windows are not always heavier. The Acura NSX went with power windows since they found it was nearly the same weight as putting on hand crank windows (and at the price they were asking, it wasn't worth saving an ounce or two to ask the rich people to have a bit of inconvenience).

Sound deadening and seating are two areas where a lot of weight has been added. Heated leather power seats can weigh anywhere from 75 to 100lbs...a typical cloth seat with 4-5 ways adjustment can come in at 35-40lbs using a cheap steel frame. 7-speaker 300watt stereo systems with a 6 disc changer can add an extra 30-50lbs (and sometimes an extra 100lbs with subwoofer systems) versus a 4 speaker 60W stereo with single disc head.

Dual climate control, power sunroof, etc, etc.

Surprisingly, modern airbags (side curtain, front, and side impact) may add only 20-25lbs.

Patrick

Sid- A honda Fit is nearly as heavy as an 85 Honda Accord. The Fit with an auto tranny is around 2600lbs curb weight. The Yaris is very svelte though.

Now a mid 90s Celica compared to an early 2000's Celica shows that automakers can make vehicles lighter if they choose to (the newer one was nearly 500lbs lighter than the mid 90s version).

Andrey

Charles:
There is sizable segment in US market where small and light weight cars are cherished. It is sport car segment. CRX, Corrado, NX2000, Del Sol, MR2, Celica, Integra, NSX, SiR… These cars have very high resale value and very loyal owners.

Patrick

The corrado was small but not especially light (VR6 models at least)...especially considering its diminutive size; same goes for the GTI (which you don't mention though).

Miata & Lotus. Now those are some lightweight vehicles along with the MR spyder. Late 80s MR2 was light but the early 90s version put on a good 400lbs.

Andrey

Patrick:

Right. I would like to add that latest MR2 (hard top)is impressively light - less then 1 ton. I do not have exact number at hand because this incredible vehicle is discontinued in N. America. It is especially impressive when compared with RX-8 with "light weight rotary engine".

According to my book, Corrado with VR6 weighted 1135 kg. Much less thel later generation VR6 Golf.

Patrick

Andrey- you are giving the curb weight of the earlier and not as fast G60 supercharged Corrado. The VR6 tips the scales at close to 2800lbs curb weight. Hardtop MR2 (from the latest generation not the pre 96 version) never came to the US. In 2000 a spyder (open top) was released.

The RX-8 is a pig at around 2900lbs. The Renesis engine just can't haul around that type of weight. I'd say take the lower power 200hp version of the renesis (with the simpler and lighter standard manifold versus the 3-stage manifold in the high power version) and put it in a sub 2500lb vehicle and it would be great as the lack of torque would not be nearly as bad with a lighter vehicle.

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