Mitsubishi to end production of the Lancer compact sedan in August

Article by Christian Andrei, on January 9, 2017

If you are planning to purchase a new Mitsubishi Lancer in the next few years, be warned that production will end soon so you better act now. This is because Mitsubishi is saying goodbye to its beloved sedan, which has been its staple offering since 1973.

Incredibly, Mitsubishi has been quite silent about its plans for the Lancer compact sedan. It was only early this year that people were informed that the Lancer would follow the tracks of its performance-laden version – the Lancer Evolution – to the scrap yard. Yes, Mitsubishi is finally ending the production of one of the most beloved nameplates in the automotive world in August of this year, as confirmed by Don Swearingen, Mitsubishi Motors North America’s executive vice president and chief operating officer. Worse, the Japanese carmaker doesn’t have any plans to build a replacement – immediate or non-immediate – for the Lancer compact sedan.

Mitsubishi’s decision to end production wasn’t because of qualms. Likewise, don’t even blame Nissan – yes, Mitsubishi’s new owner – for the pending demise of the Lancer. After all, Mitsubishi has decided to axe the Lancer even before the deal to become part of the Nissan group was signed and finalized. If you have something to blame, it should the dropping demand for the Lancer.

Looking at the company’s sales spreadsheet for the Lancer, there has been a steady decline in the numbers in the past several years. At the peak of the Lancer’s success, Mitsubishi sold 69,000 units in the United States in 2002. Even though Mitsubishi launched a new generation of the Lancer in 2007, sales still declined in 2008 to just nearly 28,000 units. Sales halved in 2016, when Mitsubishi sold just over 14,000 Lancers in the US. Thus, for the carmaker, continuing production and sales of the Mitsubishi Lancer doesn’t make a good business case anymore. Its production and sales simply have to end.

To many critics’ chagrin, sales of the poorly reviewed Mitsubishi Mirage – the carmaker’s smaller sedan -- have been on the surge in the US. Mitsubishi introduced the Mirage in the US in 2013. In its first full year in 2014, around 16,700 units of the Mirage were sold. In 2016, that figure surged to around 22,200 Mirage small sedans – around 8,000 units more than the number of Lancer compact sedans sold in the US. Basically, the Mirage is exceeding sales expectations compared to the Lancer. Swearingen also disclosed the Mitsubishi will launch a new version of the Mirage by the end of the decade.

Mitsubishi is planning to make crossovers and SUVs as its main staples in the years to come. This was only logical, as major auto markets are now going crazy for SUVs and crossovers, and its popularity isn’t expected to end in the near future.

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