Mitsubishi Motors President, Osamu Masuko, says his brand would like to create the next generation of sports cars but that it needs to meet both customer expectations and its company’s policy on sustainability and new powertrain technologies.
Speaking to the Australian media at the Tokyo Motor Show yesterday, Masuko said that at the moment the sports car segment would not be a profitable place for Mitsubishi to be.
“[The] sports car segment is going down all over the world, so that being the case then to come up with a profit would be very difficult in this segment, [which is] what we have to do from now. So we have to concentrate on our efforts for the new technology for that reason.”
Nonetheless, Masuko says the advancements the company makes in this field it hopes to one day apply to the pinnacle of motor sport.
“In the future we want to do EV Formula One and EV Rally. We would like to challenge in EV Formula One and rally, if there’s a going to be one in the future”
While that might be some time away, Mitsubishi also hopes to apply its PHEV technology to the next-generation of the company’s sports cars, with a likelihood of a PHEV Mitsubishi Evolution.
“As a successor candidate [to the Lancer Evolution X] there’s a possibility. There’s going to be three different types of PHEV, so among these PHEVs maybe we can develop even further – it’s a challenge for us”.
He went on to admit that the current Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X is perhaps bigger than it ought to be and not a reflection of the original.
“If you think about the original Evolution function, in order to continue on, the size of the vehicle has to be reviewed. And actually we have AWD and SAWC technology, we have these type of technology so its possible we would like to combine with new technology with PHEV and EV.”
Emphasising the hero car’s name, he said this combination of new powertrains and existing rally-bred technology, plus a smaller or different size, would create a real sense of “evolution” for the future product.
Nonetheless, it’s unlikely to happen unless it meets customer demands and lives up to the Evolution name.
“There’s [many] Evolution fans, so to meet the expectations of these people we need different tech and we need to respond to them with [something new]. So our customer expectations and policy, they both have to be satisfied. That’s the only way.”
It’s unclear whether Mitsubishi will apply the Evolution name to a different body to continue the nameplate or if it will wait until a next-generation Lancer replacement (which is also likely on hold).
The company has hinted that the next generation Lancer will be a result of its alliance with Nissan-Renault group, but has also confirmed that any future sports cars would be built in-house, making the possibility of a next-generation Evolution without a Lancer badge somewhat likely.