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Why Mitsubishi is making a monumental mistake dropping the hot Lancer Evolution

Mitsubishi is dropping the EVO after the last 2015 Lancer Evolution rolls off the assembly line this year. Why is Mitsubishi making a monumental mistake?

At the end of the 2015 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution production run this year, Mitsubishi will stop producing the iconic rally-bred performance sedan. It’s a sad day for performance enthusiasts around the globe who have a love affair with the EVO. Mitsubishi is making a huge mistake by dropping the performance car. Mitsubishi wants to move in a new direction by featuring new hybrid plug-in technology across their entire lineup.

Don Swearingen, Mitsubishi's executive vice president in the U.S, said recently that the EVO’s time has come and gone and it’s going away forever after the Japanese automaker releases the final special-edition model. Swearingen went on to say about the Lancer Evolution, "It's a great 'halo" for the brand, but at the end of the day, we only sell about 200 a month.”

With the right marketing, like Subaru does with the WRX and WRX STI, Mitsubishi could likely sell 10 times that amount every month. We know that crossovers and small SUVs are hot in the market around the globe, but small performance cars are selling well for Ford, Volkswagen, Subaru and Honda is getting into the mix now. Mitsubishi is missing a golden opportunity to get new buyers into their showrooms.

Even though Lancer Evolution is going away forever, MMC says they aren’t abandoning performance models altogether and will be coming out with a new plug-in-hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) drivetrain. It’s called their new eco-performance drivetrain and it could be more powerful than the outgoing Lancer Evolutions powertrain. The new Concept XR-PHEV also made its North American debut in LA last year. Performance enthusiasts won't see this technology in a Lancer Evolution sedan.

Last year, Swearingen told Motor Trend, "It's time has come and gone," and then said that the sound of tomorrow is the MiEV Evolution III, which did well at Pikes Peak. What Mitsubishi is loosing out on is the hot compact sedan market that is doing well in the U.S. The Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla, Ford Focus, Subaru Impreza and Hyundai Elantra are appealing to a new generation of buyers that Mitsubishi is loosing out on.

The Ford Focus RS, Volkswagen Golf R, Subaru WRX/STI and Honda Civic Type-R are hot hatches and sedans that are keeping interest high for each of the brands entire lineup. Automakers are using the smaller performance cars to keep attention focused on other vehicles in their lineup. It’s smart marketing that other automakers have figured out.

Interest is still high for the EVO with performance enthusiasts. The #US0001 2015 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution Final Edition just sold on Ebay for $8999 more than the MSRP. EVO fans around the globe won’t let the legendary car die and will keep the performance car alive through MOD events and other EVO Days around the world. Mitsubishi has been known to make dumb decisions before, and dropping the 2015 Lancer Evolution is another one to add to their resume.

Image source: Mitsubishi Motors North America