Mitsubishi to end production of Lancer Evolution


By Drew Singer

The Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution is officially headed to the great used-car lot in the sky.

Mitsubishi Motors Sales of Canada (MMSCAN) confirmed on July 10 the vehicle would be dropped from its lineup at the end of 2015.

“It’s a global decision and the discontinuation of the Lancer Evo is a difficult but necessary decision by Mitsubishi Motors,” said John Arnone, manager of public relations for the automaker.

The vehicle will continue to be marketed in Canada throughout its final year.

A low-volume component of the Lancer family, the Evo has found just 1,700 owners since it landed in Canadian showrooms in February 2008. And with 21,104 total vehicle sales last year (up 7.3 per cent from 2012), the vehicle represents less than two per cent of Mitsubishi’s annual sales in the country. The company sells an average of 280 Evo’s per year in Canada.

A regular sales leader for the brand, the Lancer family moved 7,404 units in Canada last year, just 249 units shy of the company’s top-selling vehicle, the RVR compact crossover (7,653 units delivered).

Unveiled in 2007 as the brand’s first global vehicle platform, the Lancer family will soon be whittled down to just three variants: sedan, Ralliart and Sportback.

Rick Wright, general manager of Valley Mitsubishi in Kelowna, B.C., said that while the Evo gives Mitsubishi dealers a halo vehicle, he’s confident the loss would not affect other members of the family.

“We’re disappointed in the sense that it’s more about branding and an image of the company. But as far as affecting Lancer sales, it’s a completely different buyer.” The dealership sells an average of two to three Evolution’s per year.

At this point, Mitsubishi remains mum on whether or not it will replace the most expensive (starting at $41,998) and most performance-oriented model in its lineup.

After all, the vehicle has achieved significant notoriety thanks in part to its worldwide presence in the World Rally Championship (during its heyday) and its heated rivalry with  another halo car, the Subaru WRX STI.

“We understand the Evolution has achieved iconic status among enthusiasts and it shines a very bright light on the Lancer brand. When it comes to what we’ve learned from the Evo and what might follow, I think it’s fair to say the spirit of the Evolution – a vehicle that lives and breathes performance – will find its way in other models in the future,” said Arnone.

“That could include an electric vehicle as well,” he added, mentioning the all-electric Mitsubishi MiEV Evolution III racing prototype and its recent one-two class-victory in the Pikes Peak hill climb on June 29.

After the race, team principal and driver Hiroshi Masuoka delivered a similar message.

“It’s great to see our young and upcoming engineers excel in this racing program as they will play a key role in Mitsubishi Motors’ development of electric vehicle and plug-in vehicle electric technology in the future.”

Arnone would not confirm development of an electric performance vehicle for the retail marketplace.