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The Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution may be killed off at the end of 2014, and its replacement could be based on the new plug-in hybrid ASX compact SUV.

Reports that the Lancer Evolution X sedan would be axed by year’s end emerged last week, and Mitsubishi Motors president Osamu Masuko told CarAdvice at a press event yesterday that based on falling sales of sports cars, the next-generation Evolution needs to be something that people want to buy – in other words, not a coupe or a small hatchback or sedan, but possibly an SUV.

“Gradually the definition of an SUV is changing,” Masuko said. “So I might anticipate that the borderline between Evolution and SUV might become more overarching.”

Mitsubishi is investing heavily in SUVs and utility vehicles for the growth of its brand. It has already previewed a new-generation version of the ASX compact SUV in concept form known as the XR PHEV (pictured below), which features a plug-in hybrid powertrain that teams a 100kW 1.1-litre turbocharged three-cylinder petrol engine with a 120kW electric motor tied to a 14kWh battery bank.

Mitsubishi XR-PHEV - 1

Masuko has confirmed that such a driveline will be sold in the ASX production model. That car’s platform, then, would logically form the basis for a plug-in performance SUV that may wear the Evolution badge.

Online rumours had suggested that the new-generation Evolution could be a coupe in the vain of the Mitsubishi 3000GT. But Masuko had previously told CarAdvice that the brand won’t do a sports car.

“[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,” Masuko said at the 2013 Tokyo motor show.

Mitsubishi head of product projects and strategy, Ryogu Nakao, told CarAdvice at the Tokyo show that the Evolution X would be “the last of its kind”. He said a successor to the current Evo would likely take the shape of a smaller, plug-in hybrid model.

Mitsubishi XR-PHEV - 4

Masuko reinforced this message at the press event which took place in Adelaide on Wednesday in conjunction with a Mitsubishi dealer conference.

“As is, Lancer Evolution, to develop in to the new generation is not currently busy in [our mind],” he said.

“Having said that, with the new technology such as PHEV (plug-in hybrid electric vehicles), we would like to challenge in SUV, and challenge in motorsports with EV cars from now on.”

For now, the existing Lancer Evolution X remains on sale. The local division introduced a subtly upgraded 2014 Lancer Evo X in August, with two variants priced at $56,990 and $65,990.