Mitsubishi has been on retreat in recent years. The brand’s vehicle lineup has receded year after year, putting the automaker in serious peril in the North American market. In an attempt to turn the ship around, Mitsubishi top brass has devised a new lineup of 11 new models and a new design language. We can see clues to their revival plan in the new e-Evolution concept and brace yourself because some of these changes can be a little jarring.
First off, the worldwide tagline Mitsubishi will drive through everyone’s brains is “Drive Your Ambition.” It’s supposed to convey adventure and progress. That’s just the start. The most dramatic reveal is the new e-Evolution Concept. While not an official member of the new lineup, Mitsubishi says the all-electric performance SUV “embodies” the brand’s new approach. Needless to say, the vehicle is controversial, thanks in part to the use of the much-revered Evolution name.
First off, the design language, called “Robust and Ingenious,” is slightly angular. Not everyone will be a fan, but others might love it. One key detail is the glass over the front grille. That protects cameras and sensors for autonomous assistance. The electric brake calipers up front get fed massive airflow from the air intakes under the headlights. Mitsubishi says short overhangs and high ground clearance make the SUV ideal for rugged terrain.
Powering this concept are three electric motors. One motor drives the front wheels, while the other two drive the rear through a dual motor active yaw control setup. That means the SUV has four-wheel drive, but in a, dare we say it, evolutionary configuration. Drivers get to manage the powertrain, cameras, and other aspects of the SUV through a large instrument panel, plus three screens. Through the largest display, the car’s AI (a glorified term for driver assistance) will coach you on driving skills. That goes well beyond a backseat driver.
The model lineup expansion, which will follow the spirit of the e-Evolution, will involve 11 new model launches in three years. Leading the charge, the Eclipse Cross is supposed to give the brand a foothold in one the hottest market niches: compact crossovers.
We’ve already seen the Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross when it debuted in Geneva earlier this year. It uses a turbocharged and direct-injection 1.5-liter engine, plus a CVT. That setup certainly won’t get enthusiasts’ hearts pumping. Buyers in certain areas can add a 2.2-liter turbodiesel, which pairs up with an eight-speed automatic transmission.
Appropriating the names of Mitsubishi’s most successful cars for new crossovers must be a thing. Just wait until a 3000GT crossover debuts next. The question most enthusiasts are asking is if the new lineup will involve any fun-to-drive cars. Not too long ago, Mitsubishi sold boring vehicles alongside models that were a blast to take on an open road, or even a track, but suffered from a lack of money and support.
In addition, Mitsubishi will be refreshing its emaciated current lineup, perhaps with a little help from their new tie-up with Renault-Nissan. Management believes the updates will recharge sales. They’ll have to be huge changes, because the Outlander, Outlander Sport, and Mirage all lag desperately behind most competitors.
The big target in this new plan is a 30 percent increase in revenue. Without that, Mitsubishi faces a bleak outlook, which would be a sad end to a storied brand.