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Plans for a next-generation Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution or any other Mitsubishi sports cars appear to be on hold while the Japanese manufacturer takes aim at lifting its market share with plug-in hybrid and full electric vehicles in the SUV and light-commercial segments.

Launched in 2007, the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X will be the last of the Evo family to be powered exclusively by a petrol engine, according to Mitsubishi managing director of product projects and strategy group Ryugo Nakao.

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“We consider Lancer Evolution like [the] Pajero, which established our brand,”Nakao-san told Australian motoring press at today’s Tokyo motor show via an interpreter.

“However, with current Evolution with gasoline engine, it will be difficult to market the next-generation Evolution. Evolution X is the last of its kind with a petrol engine.”

The next-generation Mitsubishi Lancer, on which the new Evo will be based, is itself on hold, with the company making no mention of it in its medium-term plans.

Mitsubishi Evolution Engine

Asked if the Evo would be dropped in the coming years, Nakao-san said it was yet to be decided.

“It all depends on customer demand of course. In terms of volume, Evolution X is not a big volume seller.”

Meanwhile, the future of the company’s performance sub-brand, Ralliart, is also undetermined, with Mitsubishi Motors Japan unlikely to invest into further Ralliart models for the time being.

“We would like to maintain the Ralliart brand, however, not with the development of these cars,” he said.

“Instead, we hope that distributers of each country support us in the development for Ralliart. This is because for our sports car segment with our current technology, it’s very difficult to conduct environmental protection [while making internal combustion engine sports cars].”

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Nakao-san believes it’s not possible for Mitsubishi to achieve what it wants in the sports car segment with its current electric or plug-in hybrid technology. If it does create future sports car, it will do so in-house without technology or assistance from its Renault-Nissan Alliance.

“We cannot do both environmental protection and [internal combustion-engine-only] sports car at the same time, it will take time for us to make it possible. So concentrate on PHEV and EV first, then based on this development, we will like to support the next-generation of sports car if possible.”

The Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution will soon be be forced to contend with a new generation of rivals, including the 2014 Volkswagen Golf R and Subaru WRX STI.




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