In retrospect you could see it coming “like a bad report card”. Mitsubishi is killing the Evolution and turning their focus to electric vehicles.
In 2008 they pulled out of WRC as a factory team and also took Ralliart and took it from a world wide competition presence to a web site with nothing behind it.
Sure the Evo X came out with probably the most sophisticated suspension this side of a Nissan GTR but it never grabbed the driving community the way its predecessors ever had.
The first week of March, UK’s Autocar published the results of discussions with Mitsubishi’s global product director who made it crystal clear that there will be no Evo XI. Mitsubishi was putting its design and production resources into electric vehicles.
There were some press releases from Mitsubishi where it appeared they were back pedaling, but as more information has leaked it is clear that Gayu Eusegi was not overstating the future of the Evo.
Mitsubishi is certainly not at the top of the food chain when compared to other Japanese car manufacturers. Its US monthly sales figures are pitiful compared to the others so perhaps it is hoping to produce the next Prius under its three diamond badge. After all, Mitsubishi Automotive is just a small piece of the huge Mitsubishi conglomerate that also includes a company that makes electric motors.
Mitsubishi as a car company has had some close calls in the past. The second generation Eclipse turbo motors suffered from “crank walk” where the thrust bearings would wear to the point that the crankshafts would wobble fore and aft and destroy the engines. There were several recalls over the transfer cases in the first and second generation AWD DSM (Diamond Star Motors) cars losing lubrication fluid and locking up with disastrous results. Then there was the recall of front ball joints on the second generation Eclipse cars because of failures where they would simply snap. The first generation DSM cars had leaking capacitors in their ECU that would fail. Not to mention failing brakes in the trucks sold outside of the US. In 1999 it was discovered that thousands of complaint letters were simply stuffed in a file cabinet and ignored.
So I guess you would have to be slightly loony to want to own an Evolution. A car that won the WRC three years in a row and has been a legendary road car outside of the US until it finally reached these shores back in 2003. Top Gear gave it cult status when they showcased the FQ400 Evo VIII trouncing a Lamborghini. Unfortunately the FQ series of Evolutions were never sold in the US.
So I will hang on to my Evolution IX as long as I can and enjoy its rally car properties while automotive technology moves on and Mitsubishi fades into a distant automotive racing memory.
With a bit of luck maybe Ford will bring over to these shores some of the hot euro-cars that will have AWD and rally attitude. What am I talking about – Americans have no conception of cornering at speed.