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Mitsubishi not giving up on passenger cars

The Lancer could return after all.

Mitsubishi, like many of its rivals, is gradually stepping away from sedans and coupes to focus on crossovers and SUVs. The company isn't completely giving up on passenger cars, however, and even the Lancer could make a comeback in the next few years.

"If we project ourselves five years, the total global market will be 110-115 million cars and the passenger cars will still represent 40-50 million. I know all of you guys write about the growth and emergence of SUVs and it's correct, its 35-37 per cent of the total market today and it's still growing. But that doesn't eradicate the fact that there will be 40-50 million cars that will be traditional passenger cars," explained Vincent Cobee, Mitsubishi's vice president of corporate strategy, in an interview with Australian website GoAuto.

Trevor Mann, Mitsubishi's chief operating officer, echoed Cobee's comments. He pointed out that sedans and hatchbacks remain popular in many countries around the world, including China and the United States. Sedans are normally cheaper than comparably-sized crossovers so they're a good way to lure new buyers into showrooms.

"What we have said is that as a complimentary offer to enable customers to enter the franchise, and to also satisfy the CO2 regulations, and to cater to those 40 million customers, we will investigate the possibility to look at passenger cars - so we have in our wish list, some intention to do passenger cars," Mann concluded. He added that executives are still deciding which segments to enter and which markets to play in.

Mitsubishi has already started developing a successor to the Mirage (pictured), its entry-level model. The car will ride on a platform borrowed from the Renault-Nissan alliance. And while the company stopped making the Lancer, Mann hinted a next-generation model could appear on a bigger platform also sourced from Renault-Nissan. The model hasn't received the green light for production, though.

What remains to be seen is whether the next-generation Mirage -- which could resurrect the Colt name -- and the next Lancer -- assuming it's approved -- will be sold in the United States. And, of course, we're wondering with crossed fingers if the possibility of a next-generation Lancer opens the door to a new Evolution model.

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