Auto blogTue, 05 Nov 2013 11:27:00 EST
Mitsubishi and Renault-Nissan have just inked an alliance that might, hopefully, reverse the ailing fortunes of the Mitsubishi brand in the US market. The big chunk of news is that Mitsubishi will produce two Renualt-based models for sale in the US market, and that they'll be built at the Renault-Samsung factory in Busan, South Korea.
The plans call for a D-segment sedan to be followed by a C-segment offering. Based on the cars built at the Busan factory, that means Mitsubishi will be getting the SM5 and the SM3, a pair of handsome sedans that are based on Renault-Nissan's D and C platforms, respectively. These same platforms underpin a number of US market Nissans (not to mention a number of cars from Renault), namely the Pathfinder, Maxima, Quest and Murano for the D platform and the last-generation Rogue and Sentra for the C platform.
Besides the sedan production, Nissan and Mitsubishi will be expanding their joint-venture company, NMKV, which produces Kei cars for the Japanese market. A new, all-electric offering will be born from the partnership, likely based on a Kei car platform. The partnership between the three brands will also lead to increased sharing of technology, particularly relating to electric cars.
Mitsubishi has announced a trio of concept cars it will bring to the 2013 Tokyo Motor Show, set to kick off later this month. The three concepts all sport new, edgy styling that is quite a departure from the Mitsus we see here in the states.
First up, we have the Concept GC-PHEV, which we're guessing is the middle vehicle in the photograph up top, as it's supposed to be a larger SUV - think Outlander for this one. From a powertrain standpoint, it sounds quite impressive. A 3.0-liter, supercharged, MIVEC V6 syncs up with an electric motor and a plug-in battery pack, while an an eight-speed automatic transmission dispatches power to all four wheels.
Next, we have the Concept XR-PHEV. We're taking a step down from the GC here, as the XR is meant to compete in the compact-crossover market, which means this could pre-sage the next Outlander Sport. Like the GC, though, it takes advantage of a hybrid powertrain, with a turbocharged, 1.1-liter direct-injection engine providing the grunt. The front-driver also sports a lightweight motor and battery, although specific details about both are scarce. We're thinking the XR-PHEV is the smaller, red vehicle on the right of the image up top.
Japan is the country that gave us the GT-R, the LFA and the STI. But it's also the home of Hello Kitty. We try our best to ignore the commonality, but now Mitsubishi is putting it right in our faces with the new Hello Kitty edition Mirage.
Decked out in pink, the special Mirage arrives on the occasion of the character's 40th anniversary. It comes decked out with Hello Kitty decals on the outside, special hubcaps and unique upholstery. It's even got a Hello Kitty pillow inside, for crying out loud.
Fortunately, only 400 examples will be made, hopefully only for domestic consumption, wearing a sticker price of 116,970 yen (equivalent to about $12k). Now we wish we could say this was a first, but sadly it's not - not even for Mitsubishi.
Mitsubishi will be recalling over 10,000 Lancer Evolutions built between December 12, 2007 and March 5, 2013, covering model years 2008 to 2013. The recall only affects cars with manual transmissions, though, so if you opted for a Lancer Evo with a quick-shifting SST, this recall doesn't apply to you.
If you're one of the 10,474 people that has a Lancer Evo X GSR, which is the only way into a manual-trans Evo X, you need to plan a trip to your local dealer. The recall relates to a failure in the clutch master cylinder, making shifting in and out of gear difficult. Consequently, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that this could increase the odds of crashing.
Mitsu will notify owners of the affected cars, and these Evo models will be repaired, free of charge, at dealerships. The recall is slated to begin around November 11. Scroll down for the full bulletin from the NHTSA.
Tue, 08 Oct 2013 11:31:00 EST
Mitsubishi is bringing the Mirage hatchback to the US this fall, carrying a price tag of $12,995, not including the $725 destination charge. Mitsunori Kitao, COO of Mitsubishi Motors Thailand Co., says that the Japanese automaker might consider releasing the sedan version of the Thailand-built compact - called the Attrage in Thailand and the Mirage G4 in the Phillipines - if the little hatchback takes off in the US market, Automotive News reports.
Weight is a key concern with importing the sedan. The non-US Mirage hatchback weighs just 1,900 pounds, but its naturally aspirated 1.2-liter three-cylinder engine makes just 79 horsepower and 78 pound-feet of torque, which can only manage a 0-62 miles-per-hour time of 11.2 seconds. The heavier sedan would take even longer.
Even with new models like the 2014 Outlander and Mirage in its stable, Mitsubishi could sure use a little excitement injected into its lineup. Fortunately, it looks like a trio of concepts headed to the Tokyo Motor Show could finally help spark some enthusiasm for the troubled automaker.
All we have to go on right now is a pair of teaser images for the three concepts, but it does reveal a possible new design language for Mitsubishi. The Concept GC-PHEV (shown above) is a fullsize, plug-in utility vehicle, and it could very well be a harbinger of the Montero/Pajero replacement that we heard about earlier this year. Mitsubishi will also unveil a compact plug-in crossover called the Concept XR-PHEV designed to look like a "sport coupe" as well as the Concept AR compact MPV, which will utilize a small-displacement, turbocharged engine.
There is still no word on the next-gen Lancer, Galant or subcompact sedan mentioned in recent reports, but the announcement below does show promise for Mitsubishi's lineup of plug-in cars.
Well, here's the butter knife Mitsubishi is bringing to the subcompact gun fight. It's called the Mirage, and its configurator has just gone live on Mitsubishi's consumer page, allowing those that absolutely must have a brand-new car for not a lot of money (and have never heard of the Nissan Versa, Mazda2, Chevrolet Spark or Ford Fiesta) to build their perfect example.
Prices start at $12,995 for a base DE model with a five-speed manual transmission and $14,195 for the up-market ES with the same transmission. A 74-horsepower, 1.2-liter engine is the sole powerplant. Both trims feature a continuously variable transmission for an extra $1,000 and a range of eight exterior colors, while black is the sole interior color.
Fully loaded with all the assorted packages - there are 10 on the ES model, adding things like navigation, a backup camera and LED ambient lights - the Mirage checks out at $19,540. Feel free to have a go at the configurator yourself.
Nine Japanese suppliers have pleaded guilty in US court over charges of price fixing in the automotive parts industry, resulting in the Department of Justice doling out a total of $740 million of fines, according to a report from Bloomberg. The scandal, which has resulted in General Motors, Ford, Toyota and Chrysler spending up to $5 billion on inflated parts and driving up prices on 25 million vehicles has sent the DoJ hustling into investigations. "The conduct this investigation uncovered involved more than a dozen separate conspiracies aimed at the U.S. economy," Attorney General Eric Holder (pictured above) said during yesterday's press conference.
As the investigation stands, the DoJ has issued $1.6 billion in fines against 20 companies and 21 individual executives, with 17 of the execs headed to prison. Deputy Assistant Attorney General Scott Hammond said, "The breadth of the conspiracies brought to light today are as egregious as they are pervasive. They involve more than a dozen separate conspiracies operating independently but all sharing in common that they targeted US automotive manufacturers."
Big-name suppliers indicted in the investigation include Mitsubishi Electric, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Hitachi Automotive and Mitsuba Corporation. A list of fines and other corporations named in the investigation is available at Bloomberg.
Mitsubishi makes the brilliantly fast, wonderfully fun Lancer Evolution. Outside of that road-going rally car, the rest of the range is pretty poor - the new Outlander isn't bad, but the subcompact Mirage looks like might've been competitive five years ago, while the Galant and Lancer have suffered from serial neglect.
This hasn't just lead to rumors of Mitsu's death in America; the subsidiary of the massive Mitsubishi Group has been in trouble at home, too. It was bailed out by three other Mitsubishi Group companies - Mitsubishi UFJ Financial, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Mitsubishi Corporation - between 2004 and 2005, according to Bloomberg. Now, it's attempting to extricate itself from "emergency mode," as analyst Koichi Sugimoto told the financial site, adding that "they're still in the very early stages of recovery."
As part of the bailout, Mitsubishi issued its three saviors billions of dollars of preferred shares, which don't have voting rights. The problem is, Mitsubishi hasn't issued dividend payments since 1998, and these stocks aren't exactly competing with Apple or Google, in terms of value. In other words, they're mostly worthless. With a public offering, Mitsubishi is expecting to raise 200 billion yen, or about $2 billion, in order to reduce the number of preferred shares. If all goes according to plan, it will wipe out preferred shares by March of 2014, or the end of fiscal year 2013.
Back in March, production of both the Mitsubishi Outlander plug-in hybrid and the all-electric i-MiEV ground to a halt over a pair of incidents where overheated lithium-ion batteries caused vehicle fires. Following the rocky start, The Japan Times is reporting that production of the Outlander PHEV has recommenced following the five-month stoppage.
The battery fires were tracked down to a supplier issue before more than 4,300 vehicles were recalled in June, but Mitsubishi received heavy criticism from the Japanese government for the delayed recall. According to the report, though, that hasn't slow down enthusiasm for the plug-in crossover - Mitsubishi has received close to 18,000 for the Outlander PHEV. To keep up with demand, the automaker is planning to double production to 4,000 units a month.