We wouldn’t blame you if that’s the first thing you thought or said, or if Japanese automaker Mitsubishi was selling anything other than TVs in the U.S. anymore. The automaker’s lineup has languished of late, deprived of new products without any sign of getting any new ones.
But that could be changing in the near future, as the automaker has been mulling the idea of selling its subcompact 2013 Mitsubishi Mirage in the U.S. Powered by a 1.0-liter three-cylinder engine, the Mitsubishi Mirage is seen as a competitor to the likes of the Chevrolet Spark . Mitsubishi wants to sell 200,000 Mirages worldwide starting for the 2013 model year and 500,0000 annually after that. It goes on sale this fall.
So what could be keeping Mitsubishi from selling the Mirage here? Many things.
For one, the Mitsubishi Mirage’s segment isn’t that established in the U.S. Expected to be sold in Japan for around $12,500 when converted for the exchange rate, the Mirage comes in a little more expensive than the larger—but stripped—Nissan Versa sedan. That number could go up or down, though, as it’s built in Thailand, a region less expensive to produce cars in than Japan.
Number two. It’s within earshot of plenty larger, likely just as frugal vehicles. Mitsubishi claims the Mirage achieves 64 mpg on Japan’s incredibly optimistic fuel economy ratings scale.
Also, the class it’s in, alongside other “A-segment” vehicles like the Spark and Fiat 500 is very price-sensitive when it comes to fuel costs. If gas is $4 per gallon, it’ll sell. If it’s not, who knows.
And lastly, among major factors, is the Mirage’s styling. Asian cultures typically go for more conservative designs, and the 2013 Mitsubishi Mirage is bordering on snooze-worthy. It just looks bland, possibly anonymous. That works if you have an established brand, which Mitsubishi once had in the U.S. But the automaker doesn’t anymore. Mitsubishi would be fighting an uphill battle.
“We have to make a decision soon, but we are still studying,” says the automaker’s president, Osamu Masuko.
Either way, one thing is certain: Mitsubishi needs new cars and trucks if it plans to stay in the U.S. Bringing the Mitsubishi Mirage here could be part of the answer. But it could also be the final nail in the coffin.
Source: Automotive News (Subscription required)