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The Mitsubishi Colt is one of the oldest nameplates in the compact car market, having been sold across the globe in fairly substantial numbers. While North Americans missed out on the previous incarnation, the Colt was well regarded as a practical and inexpensive subcompact that was also a competent driver’s car.
For the next generation of Colt, known as “Mitsubishi Concept Global Small”, the focus is naturally on fuel economy and frugality. The concept version will debut at the 2011 Geneva Auto Show while the production version will hit the road in 2012, and be produced at Mitsubishi’s facility in Thailand. Technical details are scant, but a CVT gearbox will be employed to help bring the new Colt to the top of the fuel economy standings, while the car is said to emit 90 grams of C02 per kilometer, an important figure in Europe, where cars are taxed on emissions.
Get more 2011 Geneva Auto Show news here.
Mitsubishi‘s lineup in the rest of the world is a pretty far cry from the Outlanders, Eclipses and Galants we’re used to in North America. In foreign markets, cars like the i, Colt and Delica can be had instead of the pulse-slowing fare sold here.
Mitsubishi apparently planned on bringing their Delica minivan to our shores, until a rocketing yen forced Mitsubishi to shelve those plans, as the vehicle became too expensive to sell in North America.
Road & Track magazine managed to get one of the evaluation vehicles, and their initial impressions were positive, although they felt that it was underpowered. With a 4000 lb curb weight and 170 horsepower, we can imagine that acceleration would be measured in geological ages, but it looks great. Mitsubishi is devoid of an entry in the minivan segment, and we would love to see this car on our continent. Unfortunately, it looks like we won’t drive one unless we rent one on vacation.
[Source: Road and Track]
Mitsubishi aims to double its sales in the U.S. in the next three years, says Mitsubishi North America Executive VP John Koenig. Last year the Japanese automaker sold just 53,986 vehicles in the U.S., down alarmingly by 44.5 percent compared to 2008. While the recession did hurt the automaker considerably, Koenig believes that much of the loss can be attributed to a heavy focus on fleet sales and a perceived brand instability, with reports that the company would pull out of the U.S. market.
Mitsubishi isn’t just hoping either, but has put together an extensive plan for the brand, which started by redesigning vehicles to look more like the stylish Lancer and continues with the launch of the new 2010 Outlander.
The next step, while still unconfirmed by Mitsubishi, will include the introduction of two new models to the marketplace, a smaller crossover (aimed at the likes of the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4) as well as a new subcompact model to slot in underneath the Lancer. The compact crossover market has grown considerably over the past few years and Mitsubishi’s Outlander grew in size during that time, leading compact CUV buyers to look elsewhere. A sporty new crossover like the ASX (also called the RVR), which is headed to its debut at the Geneva Auto Show in March, is just what the automaker needs. Mitsu has also targeted the emerging sub-compact market, with rumors that the Colt will return to take on the likes of the Honda Fit, Toyota Yaris, as well as newcomers like the Ford Fiesta and Mazda2.
A mini-car called the iMiEV is also set for the U.S. market, with Mitsubishi still deciding on if it will offer both a gasoline and electric version. Sales of this model, however, aren’t expected to be significant.
One area where Mitsu also needs to improve is with the Galant mid-size sedan, which is in desperate need of replacement. Koenig admits that one reason for a decline in Galant sales is a reduction in demand by rental car agencies – a strong sign that the car isn’t popular with consumers.
Mitsubishi’s plan isn’t as optimistic as it sounds and might just be an easily achievable goal, as with a lineup similar to the current one, Mitsu sold 128,993 units in 2007. And while the automaker has continued to slide in recent years back in 2002 it managed to move a significant 345,111 models
Along with a new list of products Mitsubishi is also looking to get more heavily involved in advertising and has already purchased numerous spots on network TV. Mitsubishi’s public relations head Maurice Durand commented that when it comes to the high-volume models like the Outlander and Lancer, “We have to work hard to enhance their perception and desirability.”
[Source: Ward's Auto via Autoblog]
Just last week Mitsubishi announced that it is planning to bring over a smaller Lancer-based crossover to North America and now comes word that the Japanese automaker has yet another new model to debut shortly thereafter. Based on a new global small car platform the car will be smaller than the Colt (shown above), which is currently on sale in both Japan and Europe. Fuel-economy for this new model is important and the engine size could be as large as 1.3-liters or as small as just 1.0-liters. It is not clear if this new model will replace the current Colt (which is in the same class as the Toyota Yaris, Hyundai Accent and Honda Fit) or if it will be more of a mini-car.
This new platform will also spawn an electric car and a plug-in hybrid. Mitsubishi is planning to bring one of the two green options to North America but has not yet decided which one.
Having suffered significantly in the recent recession, Mitsubishi is examining where it stands as a manufacturer and is aiming to grow its business in North America by offering extremely fuel-efficient models.
The company is also examining it’s U.S. dealer network and is looking to cut some loose while signing up others (in prime locations) that were let go by Chrysler and General Motors.