Ask Mitsubishi about its future, and you’ll learn about its plan to put crossovers at the forefront of everything it does. Ask Mitsubishi about its current success, and you’ll hear about how the diminutive Mirage – despite poor reviews from critics – is exceeding sales expectations. Ask Mitsubishi about its Lancer, however, and all you'll hear is silence.
Yes, the Lancer is on its way out, with no replacement in sight. Mitsubishi Motors North America’s executive vice president and chief operating officer, Don Swearingen, confirms the company’s intent to phase out the Lancer. Production of the compact sedan will officially end in August.
When asked about the potential for a new C-segment car, given the company’s tie-in with Nissan, Swearingen doesn’t see the need for a replacement. “We lose a bit” by not having Lancer, not to mention its rally-car-for-the-streets Evolution model, but plans to discontinue the Lancer were in place long before the Renault-Nissan deal was finalized.
The Lancer’s sales have been on a steady decline over the years. At its best, Mitsubishi moved 69,000 units of the Lancer in 2002, but those numbers gradually fell, all the way down to a meager 14,304 in 2016.
As for the smaller Mirage, however, Mitsubishi says it’s a key part of the company’s success right now. “Our customers love the product,” according to Swearingen, and a new version is expected to launch right around the end of the decade. Between the Mirage and the brand’s upcoming compact crossover, Mitsubishi says it’ll have everything it needs to keep building momentum here in the U.S. market.