You want a new Lancer Evolution. I want a new Lancer Evolution. Mitsubishi is well aware of this, and it’s not just us whiners begging the company to bring back its most beloved product — the automaker’s shareholders are apparently demanding it too, according to a report out of Japanese publication Response.
This story broke around the middle of last week — right after Mitsubishi’s annual shareholders meeting wrapped — but it hasn’t received much attention yet. According to Response by way of Japanese Nostalgic Car, at the event Mitsubishi CEO Takao Kato shed a little more detail on what the company is angling to do with the Ralliart brand after it announced it was going to bring it back. “We plan to develop [Ralliart] as a genuine accessory in a wide range of models,” Kato said, via Google Translate. “But we will also consider involvement in rallying.”
Involvement on what level? Who knows! But one thing this renewed interest in rallying will not include — at least not yet — is a new Evo. Supposedly, stakeholders want it, but Kato said the time just isn’t right. From Response, again translated:
Electrification costs a lot of development, and we still don’t have enough strength as a company. We put out a big deficit in the previous fiscal year, so we want to revive the company first and then put out a little car that fans are waiting for.
Mitsubishi plainly isn’t in a position to burn money on research and development on a niche sports sedan — hell, it can’t even build a crossover most people actually want to buy these days. If there’s any hope of the Evo returning, it’d have to happen after the company has reclaimed stable financial footing. Unfortunately, Kato had less to say about how Mitsubishi intends to get there.
The trouble is, for Mitsubishi to sell cars, it has to make cars. That’s becoming increasingly difficult as the company pares down its lineups and trims and its global footprint to find a viable path forward. One strategy is to sell rebadged Renaults in Europe starting in 2023. But until then, the automaker’s only new-ish product in the continent will be the Eclipse Cross PHEV — a car it considers “the core of its brand.” That poor plug-in hybrid has an awful lot of responsibility riding on its shoulders.
Then again, at least Europe has the promise of new Mitsubishis on the horizon. In the U.S., the company is banking on the recent launch of the 2022 Outlander (the consensus on that one appears to be “it’s fine”), slight tweaks and updates to its aging, forgotten crossovers, and a couple of Mirage facelifts. Not bringing back the Evo is the least of Mitsubishi’s issues.