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The Future of Mitsubishi - Autoweek

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Mitsubishi's Questionable Future
Possible arrival of Pajero Pinin, dealers unimpressed by '09 Galant and Endeavor
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By KATHY JACKSON | Link to Original Article @ AutoWeek


The redesigned Outlander crossover and entry-level Lancer sedan have helped fuel a rebound in Mitsubishi's U.S. sales.

But U.S. dealers were not impressed with sketches of the 2009 Galant sedan and Endeavor crossover at dealer meetings this year in Japan and the United States.

"We all gave them the thumbs down," said one dealer. He said those models basically only get new bumpers.

"It's like putting perfume on a pig," he said. "Like changing your fingernail color."

Dealers were counting on radical changes for the Galant and Endeavor to help keep the brand's sales momentum. Mitsubishi sources say dealers saw freshened models, not the redesigns coming later.

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Lancer: The Lancer has been redesigned for the 2008 model year, and sales began in the spring. The Lancer is the first Mitsubishi sold in this country with a continuously variable transmission.

The redesigned high-performance Lancer Evolution is the big news. Sales begin next year. The 10th-generation Evo will have a new 300-plus-hp 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine. A dual-clutch automated six-speed manual transmission will be offered, along with all-wheel drive.

"The Lancer architecture will be the star for Mitsubishi in the coming years," a company source said. "There will be lots of flavors of Lancer."

An optional turbocharged four-cylinder engine is expected for non-Evolution models. The company plans to add a Lancer hatchback for the 2009 model year. A diesel will be available in 2010.

Eclipse: A freshening is scheduled for the 2011 model year. Plans include updated styling and a power boost.

Galant: The mid-sized sedan will be reskinned for the 2009 model year.

The date for the redesign is unclear. Sources say a stretched version of the automaker's C platform may be used. That platform is used for the Lancer and Outlander.

Mitsubishi may follow Chrysler's path. Chrysler and Mitsubishi initially worked together to develop the C platform until DaimlerChrysler cut its stake in Mitsubishi. Then Chrysler went its separate way, developing two sizes of vehicles with its version of the platform: the Dodge Caliber, Jeep Compass and Patriot and the larger Chrysler Sebring and Dodge Avenger.

Pajero Pinin: This is a smaller version of the Pajero SUV that is sold in Europe and Japan. Mitsubishi may export this small vehicle to the United States after it is redesigned around the 2011 model year. It will be bigger and more powerful than the current model.

Outlander: For the 2008 model year, Mitsubishi will add its version of the 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine it co-developed with DaimlerChrysler and Hyundai. Previously, only a 3.0-liter V-6 was offered. A diesel will be available for the 2010 model year.

Endeavor: The crossover is scheduled for a freshening for the 2009 model year, but the Endeavor may be killed around the 2011 or 2012 model year.

Montero: This SUV was killed at the end of the 2006 model year because Mitsubishi did not have the budget to meet U.S. regulations. The Montero may return as a 2011 model.

Raider: The pickup, which is based on the Dodge Dakota, arrived in the 2006 model year but has been a bust for Mitsubishi. After the 2008 model year, when the three-year contract expires, sources say the Raider will fade away.
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So the company's hopes are based on the Lancer. I think it is a good place to start, but hopefully the company has bigger plans. If not, then I have serious hopes on their survival.

I do like the new Lancer. The exterior is far more attractive than the rental car darling appearance of its predecessor. It looks like a good base for the upcoming Evo. I also like the idea of a hatchback version. I just hope it is as attractive as the new sedan and bares no resemblance to the wagon version of the previous generation.

The Galant and Endeavor are in serious need of a redesign. I agree with the dealers; a new bumper/fascia treatment is not going to have any effect on either vehicles' fortunes. Both exterior designs are unattractive and do absolutely nothing to bring new customers into Mitsubishi dealerships. I believe it would be a mistake to drop the Endeavor in a crossover crazy market; the next generation just needs to be a homerun in the styling and engineering department. I would also like to see the Galant become a true alternative competitor to the Camry/Accord juggernaut. It will take a massive redesign/reengineering effort to make this happen in addition to a massive media campaign.

I do hope Mitsubishi survives. Having choices in the auto market makes it exciting. Seeing a good conquering underdog story is also exciting. I just hope Mitsubishi has the fight in them to make it happen.

P.S. Dropping the Raider was a step in the right direction.

Edited by cire
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lancer diesel could be neat! maybe would be an affordable alternate to a VW TDI.

outlander diesel as well.

too bad the galant and endeavor will not be fully replaced. at least both I hope get all new interiors. both vehicles are good, but behind in a lot of ways. For example, 6 speed trannies are needed. both need hp/engine upgrades. the endeavor is actually a pretty good buy and handles well for a large x-over and both are pretty reliable.

the other competition moves on at a rapid pace though. it would be pretty easy for mits to fall off the map even farther than it has.

Edited by regfootball
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