It is evident that Mitsubishi is in the final stages of demise. All the signs have been there, we saw the company enjoy a tech-laden lineup that attracted the young, the old and the dollars. We stood bedside as the automaker wobbled through the Chrysler years. We suffered past the onslaught of small utilitarian sedans, barely noticeable pickup trucks and moderately successful SUV’s that should have been given more attention in this country. Nobody wanted to admit it, but the Mitsu-flu was diagnosed some time ago and was inevitably life-threatening.
If I had a terminal disease, I could be in denial for so long. If my eyes looked a little droopy, I can simply blame it on fatigue. When my skin became pale and hair begins to fall out, makeup and wigs can be my covering. However, if my arm falls off, there is no hiding that.
With the announcement that Mitsubishi made recently that they will discontinue Lancer Evolution production, they have decided on amputation — savage amputation at that.
Drastic decisions like this have never bided well for Asian automakers. Isuzu decided that they would only make trucks. We all remember how that turned out, right? Mazda almost lost its shirt when they chose to add on a luxury brand (following the Toyota/ Lexus and Nissan/Infiniti craze of the day). A decision that turned a brand into a few poorly introduced cars. Last fall, Mitsubishi said that their strength lies in SUV’s and Pickups……Uh-oh!
The news from Mitsubishi is more than dire news for the company; it is the loss of another automotive icon. The Lancer EVO is a cult hero. It was a car that joined the ranks of Audi and Lancia in rally history. It also served as worthy competition to Subaru in WRC.
The loss of the Evolution shrinks an already small lineup for U.S. dealers, who have enough to contend with from its own countrymen who constantly serve up fresh, new, feature-laden designs as often as the change of season.
Mitsubishi once had a reputation as a purveyor of tech-savvy performance cars such as the Evolution, Eclipse and 3000GT. It would hurt to see yet another brand die. It hurts worse to see it linger on life support. Mitsubishi is predicting an upswing by 2017. I certainly hope so. I don’t claim to have any answers for Mitsubishi, but dropping the Evolution would never have been my prescription.