The Mitsubishi Lancer's decade-long run as the diamond brand's small car is set to end in August this year, reports out of the US suggest.
The news doesn't come as too much of a surprise: Mitsubishi has repeatedly said it is reshaping itself to be an SUV and pick-up truck manufacturer, and the Lancer Evolution – the brand's hero vehicle for years – has been axed already.
Mitsubishi North America president and COO, Don Swearingen, told US media last night that the brand will no longer have the Lancer on sale later in 2017 as production will end in August. He reportedly said that the Mirage sedan will continue to fulfil demand for that sort of small car (the Lancer is only sold as a sedan in the US).
UPDATE: Mitsubishi Australia has informed CarAdvice that the reports of the Lancer's demise are specific to the US market.
"Globally, Lancer production will continue and in the Australian market sales of the Lancer will go beyond 2017," said Karl Gehling, head of corporate communications for Mitsubishi Motors Australia.
Let's reflect on how successful the Mitsubishi Lancer has been in its current generation in Australia: it went on sale here in 2007, and in its first full year on sale (2008), there were 19,688 units sold. Then in 2009, a tough year for the market, there were 21,362 units sold, while 2010 was the current-generation model's biggest year on sale, with 23,076 vehicles sold.
Then things started to dip away, with newer competition coming into the mix such as the new Toyota Corolla and Mazda 3, and in 2011 the Lancer sold 18,717 units, while 2012 saw 15,321 units moved. In 2013 there were 11,408 sales, then 2014 saw 10,333 units sold, and 2015 saw it dip to four digits, with just 8527 vehicles sold.
In 2016, despite its age, there were still 7272 sales of the Lancer, making it the seventh-best selling small car in the highly competitive segment.
We wonder how Mitsubishi's SUV plan will will cover for those sales being lost, if only in Australia. The company will debut a new-generation ASX compact SUV this year, and if its sales are anything to go by (18,126 sales in 2016), that could be the key to the company's future success in the small vehicle segment.