Earlier this month a shocking report came out claiming the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution may be culled after the current model, the Evo X, runs its course. Within hours, Mitsubishi released an official--albeit ambiguous--statement via its Facebook page quelling those claims but hinting that any successor may not be like any Evo seen before.
Now the automaker has confirmed that the development of the next-generation Evo will be taking a new direction. In a press release outlining Mitsubishi’s commitment to reducing CO2 emissions and the launch of more plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles, the automaker’s chief, Osamu Masuko, made this statement:
"Production of the current Lancer Evolution X continues as planned. As for its successor, regulations and market feedback will dictate its engineering package and architecture. Mitsubishi has kept the Lancer Evolution sedan evolving as the brand’s highest performing model in the global market. However, as the markets needs and demands change, Mitsubishi is considering not advancing the Lancer Evolution concept in the same way as before, but to find a different direction for the Lancer Evolution model to evolve. The new direction, the technologies involved, and corresponding products will be disclosed in due course."
The latest official word confirms that a successor is planned, at least for now, though it strongly suggests that reports of a hybrid powertrain in the next-gen Evo may prove true. The words “regulations” and “market feedback” are what’s worrying now.
The original claim that the Evo may be dead was spurred by Mitsubishi’s own belief that electric vehicle technology and pushing in a different direction from the rally-bred performance of its past were key to remaining viable going into the future. The mixed message of high-efficiency and the Evo's high-performance would confuse consumers, explained Mitsubishi’s global product director, Gayu Eusegi, during a recent interview.
The Lancer Evolution line of cars can trace its roots going back several decades, with the glorious line of Mitsubishi sports cars that started with the Lancer 1600 GSR in 1973, followed by the EX 2000 Turbo in 1980, and eventually the first Lancer Evolution in 1992 and its eight subsequent generations. The current Lancer Evo X is arguably the only model keeping Mitsubishi on the world map and any plans to drop it entirely or completely eradicate its heritage would be foolish.