Mitsubishi Draws Closer to the Renault-Nissan Alliance

Lancer replacement likely coming from the alliance.

Mitsubishi is discontinuing its Lancer as well as its heralded Lancer Evolution models, and that is not sitting well with enthusiasts the world over. Arguably, the Evolution is one of the more exciting small cars on the market, the heart and soul of this small, Japanese automaker.

Quite frankly, Mitsubishi is simply too small to go it alone and can no longer afford to produce new, small cars. In a world where large automakers and alliances are thriving, any company the size of Mitsubishi has to find a way to survive or it will die.

Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution.
The Lancer Evolution might return thanks to Renault.

Help From Renault-Nissan Alliance

Despite our own contention that Mitsubishi is on life support and may soon go the way of Daihatsu, Isuzu and Suzuki — quitting the US market — this manufacturer apparently has no plans to leave. Instead, the company is building strategic alliances to help it survive. The Renault-Nissan alliance is one such arrangement that will provide at least two new models going forward.

We already know that the next generation Mitsubishi Galant will be based on the Korean-made Renault Latitude, what was the contention of Car & Driver, among others. Even back then — Nov. 2013 — speculation about a Lancer replacement was being discussed.

Two New Models

Well, the current buzz is that Mitsubishi has reached an agreement with the Renault-Nissan alliance to supply two new models for Mitsubishi. One model would be a midsize sedan sold in the US and Canada only, the second model would be a compact sedan marketed globally according to Automotive News. Both models would be based on an existing Renault model and may yet be a few years away from introduction.

Likely, we’ll see the Mitsubishi Galant replacement by 2017 with the compact arriving perhaps in time for the 2016 model year. If that is the case, then the compact’s timing would coincide with the discontinuation of the current Lancer/Evolution model line, scheduled to end following the 2015 model year. However, you can consider this model dead on arrival if it does not incorporate the Evo’s DNA — Mitsubishi fans won’t be fooled by a warmed over Renault.

The Much Ballyhooed Evo

Over the years, the Evo has been prized for its many special features, including its Recaro seats, a twin-scroll turbocharger and hot styling inside and out. The Evo is also all-wheel drive, giving it an edge in a segment matched only by the Subaru WRX. In other words, Mitsubishi can forge whatever alliance it wants, but the the new Lancer/Evo better have the “cred” to go with it.

Mitsubishi made a decision a year or two ago to concentrate on building crossovers going forward. The segment is booming and profitable, with the Outlander and Outlander Sport now comprising about half of Mitsubishi’s US sales. The automaker also sells the tiny Mirage hatchback, but when it comes to cars this small-time Japanese automaker seems content to rely upon alliances to fill in the rest of its thin product line.

A Second Crossover?

Beyond the Outlander/Sport, Mitsubishi does produce a larger utility vehicle for other markets. Automotive News says that Mitsubishi has a replacement larger utility coming in 2018, with plug-in hybrid models of both utilities planned. Thus, we may yet see another crossover model in the US, what would help provide better representation for the smallest of Japan’s surviving car manufacturers maintaining a North American presence.

With two supplied models on the way, will Mitsubishi join the Renault-Nissan alliance? That isn’t likely as the two companies have multiple arrangements with other manufacturers already in place. For its part Mitsubishi also has an alliance with Citroen, part of the PSA Peugeot Citroen company that competes directly with Renault.

See AlsoWill Fiat Chrysler Rescue Mitsubishi?

Photo courtesy of Eric Hall.

Author: Matthew Keegan
Matt Keegan has maintained his love for cars ever since his father taught him kicking tires can be one way to uncover a problem with a vehicle’s suspension system. He since moved on to learn a few things about coefficient of drag, G-forces, toe-heel shifting, and how to work the crazy infotainment system in some random weekly driver. Matt is a member of the Washington Automotive Press Association and is a contributor to various print and online media sources.

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