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New President And CEO At Mitsubishi NA

Yoichi Yokozawa

The Japanese automaker Mitsubishi announced this week that the North American operations will be helmed by Yoichi Yokozawa. Up until now he was the vice president of the company and as of April 1st, he will replace Shinichi Kurihara as the company’s CEO. The latter said that he will return to the Mitsubishi mothership, although it is uncertain what position he will occupy once he returns to Japan.

Yokozawa joined Mitsubishi 13 years ago when he came on board the automaker’s European HQ in order to help oversee the company’s financial planning on the old continent. Starting with 2006, the executive has been responsible for guiding the company through NAFTA interests as the corporate general in the Mitsubishi overseas business management office. Sources at the company said that Yokozawa has worked with Mitsubishi on many levels, from financial, alliance to merger and other business projects.

Source: Mitsubishi

Preview – 2011 Chicago Auto Show PART 3

Welcome back to the third and final part of our extensive article about the most important cars that will delight us at the 2011 Chicago Auto Show. Let’s start with Land Rover and their Range Rover Evoque.

2012 Land Rover Evoque

The car will be available in 2-door and 4-door variants, both of them featuring the same engine, which will be a 4-cylinder 2.0-liter turbocharged that outputs 240 hp, linked to a 6-speed automatic gearbox. The Evoque will come with an all-wheel drive system as well as the company’s new Terrain Response System.

2011 Lexus CT 200h

One of my personal favorites, Lexus, will bring the CT 200h which is a 4-door / 5-passenger hybrid hatchback, featuring a conventional 4-cylinder 1.8-liter gasoline engine and a battery-powered electric motor, both of them offering a combined power of 134 hp. The new C200h will use a CVT – Continuously Variable Transmission and can run on one or both of the power sources (without having to charge it).

2012 Mercedes SLK

Mercedes will be heading out to Chicago where they will have three new production models: the beautiful 2012 SLK, the 2012 CLS and the 2012 C-Class. We’ve talked about the SLK on rpmGO.com before; it will be available in two variants: the SLK250 and the SLK350. The entry-level model will be fitted with a 4-cylinder 1.8-liter that outputs 201 hp, linked to either a 6-speed manual or a 7-speed automatic gearbox. The SLK350 is going to have a more powerful V6 3.5-liter engine, good for 302 hp. This model will be available with a 7-speed automatic transmission.

The CLS will be available in two models: CLS550 and the AMG CLS63. The first one has a V8 4.7-liter turbocharged engine that outputs 402 hp while the other comes with a V8 5.5-liter turbocharged engine that produces 518 hp. The CLS550 has a 7-speed automatic gearbox while the CLS630 AMG will get a 7-speed automated manual gearbox.

The 2012 C250 will be offered in two trim levels: Luxury and Sport, both of them featuring a 4-cylinder 1.8-liter unit that churns 201 hp. The C300 will have the same trim levels, but it will be equipped with a V6 3.0-liter engine, good for 228 hp. The C350 will have the same engine, but this time it will output 302 hp. The high-end model will be the AMG version C63 which will most likely come with a V8 6.2-liter that outputs 451 hp.

2011 Mini Countryman

Mini will be bringing their 2011 Countryman, which will be the first four full-sized doors Mini model sold in the United States. The car will be available in two trim levels: Base and S. The entry-level will get a 4-cylinder 1.6-engine that churns 120 hp while the high-end variant will feature a 4-cylinder 1.6-liter that produces 180 hp. Both of the models will get front-wheel drive and a 6-speed manual gearbox.

Mitsubishi Outlander Sport

Mitsubishi will show us their Outlander Sport model which will be available in two trim levels: ES and SE. Both of the versions will pack a front-wheel drive system and a 4-cylinder 2.0-liter that outputs 148 hp. The ES will come with a 5-speed manual gearbox while the SE will get a CVT transmission and steering-wheel paddles for manual changing.

2011 Nissan Juke

Another Japanese automaker that will be heading out to Chicago this year will be Nissan with three models: the award-winning Leaf, the funky Juke and the sporty 2012 GT-R. We talked about the Leaf thousands of times, but here is a small presentation. The car will be available with two trims levels – SV and SL. Both of them will have the same lithium-ion battery pack and an electric motor that outputs 107 hp. It can be charged at either a 110-volt or a 220-volt outlet. For the first type it will need 20 hours while for the second type it will need only 8 hours.

Porsche Cayman R

The guys over at Porsche will be bringing their 2012 Cayman R. This two-seater sports coupe will come with the third and newest trim, dubbed “R”. Unlike the entry-level trim or the S mode, the R has a 6-cylinder 3.4-liter power unit that outputs 330 hp, linked to a 6-speed manual gearbox as standard. It is also available with an optional 7-speed dual-clutch automated manual gearbox.

2011 Scion iQ

If you can’t afford the Aston Martin Cygnet, the next best thing is the Scion iQ. Featuring a 4-cylinder 1.3-liter engine that outputs 90 hp, this certainly won’t be the most powerful car at the Chicago Auto Show.

Scion will also be bringing the 2011 tC 2-door hatchback coupe which will be fitted with a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder power unit that cranks up 180 hp, mated to either a 6-speed manual transmission or a 6-speed automatic gearbox.

Toyota Prius v

Scion will not be going to Chicago without its parent company Toyota. Despite the fact that the Japanese automaker is the largest manufacturer in the world, they will be bringing only one model here (one that they already took to Detroit) – 2012 Prius v. The heart of the car will be a conventional 1.8-liter gasoline engine which will be paired with a battery-powered electric motor. The combined power will be 134 hp.

2012 Volkswagen Passat

The German automaker Volkswagen will be heading out to Chicago with the recently-launched 2012 Passat and the 2012 Eos. Presented first at Detroit, the Passat will be available in three different trim levels: S, SE and SEL. Engine options include the 4-cylinder 2.0-liter unit with 140 hp, 5-cylinder 2.5-liter with 170 hp and the high-end V6 3.6-liter with 280 ponies. The diesels will be available with either a 5-speed manual or a 6-speed dual-clutch automated-manual gearbox. The 5-cylinder 2.5-liter will get either a 5-speed manual or a 6-speed automatic gearbox. The V6 engine will be fitted with a 6-speed dual-clutch automated manual gearbox.

The EOS will come with a power-retractable hardtop with an integrated sunroof. Under the hood it will feature a 4-cylinder 2.0-liter that produces 200 hp, mated to a 6-speed dual-clutch automated-manual transmission.

2011 Volvo S60

Sweden will be represented at Chicago by Volvo with their sexy 2011 S60 model. This premium-midsize car will benefit from a 6-cylinder 3.0-liter turbocharged engine that will produce 300 hp and will be mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission. At first, the car will be available in one single trim level, the T6. Later on this year, the Swedish automaker will be introducing the T6 R-Design which should be a real looker.

These are the most important cars that will be presented at the 2011 Chicago Auto Show. Some of them you might have already seen while others are a premiere (not many unfortunately).  From February 9th to February 20th, the automotive capital of the world will be Chicago. Next month we will have another important auto show to review at Geneva. Stay tuned for a comprehensive coverage.

PS: Part 1 and 2 of the article are here and here. Enjoy the reading.

Mitsubishi Global Small Concept Revealed

Mitsubishi Global Small Concept

A few days ago, the Japanese automaker Mitsubishi revealed new details regarding their Global Small Concept along with the first rendering of this new model. The idea behind this concept is to create a car that is affordable, compact and offers a high level of fuel economy. The car will be officially unveiled at the 81st edition of the Geneva International Motor Show which will be organized for two weeks at the Geneva Palexpo starting with March 1st. This concept will be the foundation of a new model that will be produced starting with next year at Mitsubishi’s third plant located in Thailand.

The Mitsubishi Global Small Concept will be fitted with either a 1.0-liter power unit or with a 1.2-liter engine with start / stop technology and a regenerative braking system. The engineers will emphasize on keeping the curb weight to a minimum level and reducing the running resistance. All of these concepts have been employed in the development of the all-new CVT transmission, the engine as well as the tires and the brake system. Design-wise, the body of the concept has been created in order to reduce the aerodynamic resistance, making the car even more fuel efficient.

Mitsubishi Global Small Concept

In addition, the car promises to offer great maneuverability and easy operation, inheriting the features of today’s compact cars while at the same time offering enough space for five adults. Aside from the fuel efficiency, the car will have CO2 emissions of only mid-90g/km.

Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VII takes off dyno [video]

Usually, some well placed straps are all it takes for a successful dyno test. But not when you’re in Puerto Rico. The video below shows a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VII which was being tested by a few students from the Mech-Tech College in Ponce, Puerto Rico. Apparently, someone forgot to take all safety measures, because at second 16 we can see the car violently breaking free of dyno and suffering some damage. Not too much, but we feel sorry that this could’ve been so easily avoided.


EV Sales Will Reach 20% by 2016 In UK

Nissan Leaf

According to Steve Holliday who is the CEO of the National Grid Plc, the electric cars will make up 20% of the United Kingdom’s automobile sales by 2016 thanks to the fact that drivers will be taking advantage of the lower fuel costs and the government subsidies. Holliday believes that by 2020, United Kingdom will have a million electric vehicles on the road. This number will be possible if one in five cars sold in the United Kingdom from 2016 will be electric.

UK, similar with other European countries, is using subsidies in order to promote EV so that the carbon dioxide emission levels will reduce in the future. From January 2011, an electric car buyer will save up to $7,795 (5,000 pounds). The same money will be saved by people that purchase plug-in hybrid vehicles. About 8.8 million pounds have been earmarked in order to sustain the development of a national recharging network which by 2013 will have about 11,000 plug-in points, in comparison to this moment when there approximately 300.

Within the next few weeks, United Kingdom will start selling the first two electric cars – the Nissan Leaf, and the Mitsubishi iMiEV. The cars will have a basic price of about 29,000 pounds and can be charged using the standard household plug.

Mitsubishi iMiEV

The SMMT – Society of Motor Manufacturers and Trades in United Kingdom said that in 2009 there were 31 million vehicles in the country and the average daily distance traveled by a driver is about 25 miles and the length of a single trip is 8.6 miles.

Holliday said that the National Grid high-voltage electricity transmission is able to face the demand of one million electric vehicles, but “penetration up and above that becomes a real issue.” He also mentioned that the local distribution networks in London for example might have problems of balancing their grids if electric car owners plug in their vehicles at the same time.

According to a SMMT report, the cost of fully charging an EV like the LEAF (which has a 100 miles range) could cost about 96 pence and take between 6 to 8 hours. A Bloomberg New Energy Finance analyst by the name of Albert Cheung wrote in an e-mail that “depending on how fast it charges, an electric vehicle can draw as much power as a house. So if half a dozen neighbors plug in electric vehicles on the same street, it could push the local transformer over its rated capacity.”

The United Kingdom government is offering other incentives in order to encourage the purchase of electric vehicles, by eliminating the demand of paying the 8 pound / day congestion charge and in some neighborhoods, electric car owners have the possibility to park for free.

Another SMTT report says that the total fuel costs of a normal conventional car that is driven 10,000 miles per year over a period of three years are approximately 2,767 pounds in comparison to only 756 pounds needed for an electric vehicle that is used over the same amount of time.

By 2014, the European emissions standards will be taking effect which means that all new cars must cut their nitrogen-oxide emissions by 56% (for diesel engines). This will most likely lead to an increase in popularity of hybrid and electric cars. At the moment there are very few cars that comply with the requirements of the Euro 6 regulations. According to HIS, the introduction of the Euro 6 rules will most likely help the electric / hybrid cars share rise across the Europe to 13% by 2020. Today the hybrid / electric cars share is approximately 0.1%.

To keep up with these new changes in regulations and standards; BMW, PSA Peugeot Citroen and Dailmer are at the moment developing hybrid and electric cars to fulfill the future environmental regulations and at the same time, increase sales with new and attractive cars that are not only eco-friendly, but also cheaper to use.

Japanese Automakers Aiming At The Chinese Market

2011 Mitsubishi Galant

It seems that Mitsubishi Motors Corp. and Honda Motor Co. are attempting to expand their sales in the China which is at this moment, the largest automotive market in the world and it seems that it will remain the same for the following years.

Mitsubishi has set up its first 50/50 joint venture in the Middle Kingdom and is expecting to double the capacity there. Honda is also planning on doubling the production at the Wuhan factory where in the near future it will start producing hybrid cars.

These attempts to conquer the Chinese market come as a direct response to General Motors and Volkswagen AG, as these companies have already a strong activity in China. The most important international automakers that hold the first places for most cars sold to the Chinese market are VW, GM, Hyundai, Toyota and Renault-Nissan.

From all of the Japanese car manufacturers, Mitsubishi is the last one that formed a 50-50 joint venture in China. The Fuji Heavy Industries, who is a manufacturer of Subaru cars, also has no production there, but its plans are to sign a partnership until the end of the year.

2011 Honda Civic Sedan

Honda is currently constructing a secondary assembly plant for the Dongfeng Honda Automobile Corporation, one of the brand’s 50/50 joint ventures. Although the initial capacity of this new assembly plant was set at 60,000 units per year, Honda recently stated that they have increased the number to 100,000 cars.

By 2013, the capacity of Honda’s factory in Wuhan will reach 120,000 units per year and in the upcoming years; it will be able to make 240,000 cars annually. The Dongfeng Honda plant has at the moment an annual capacity of 240,000 automobiles.

The Japanese newspaper Nikkei noted that the new plant will be making the Civic subcompact model and that by early 2012, Honda will start manufacturing hybrids in China. Seiji Kuraishi who is Honda’s boss in China, confirmed that the Japanese automaker will start making hybrids in China in the near future, but did not shared other details regarding this topic. The Nikkei newspaper also noted that the Fit and Civic hybrids are two of Honda’s options for the Chinese factories.

Honda’s sales in China reached 475, 695 cars this year until September, which is a 16% increase in comparison to the similar period of last year. However, only 63 hybrids were sold in the first 9 months of 2010.

Honda is hoping that by 2013, their manufacturing capacity in China will reach 890,000 units per year, including the 480,000 cars at the Ghuangzhou Honda joint venture as well as at the 50,000 units manufactured at Honda Automobile China, which is a local venture that makes cars for export.

Mitsubishi will be buying a 50% stake at the GAC Changfeng Motor Corporation where at the moment it has only 14.6% shares. GAC Changfeng Motor can make 80,000 cars per year. The models being built there are the Mitsubishi Pajero SUV and the Changfeng-badged SUVs. Within the next five years, Mitsubishi wants to start making 250,000 cars at the factory. In July 2012, the Japanese automaker will start producing a new vehicle there. Mitsubishi also owns 25% of Fujian Motor Co., a venture that has a 150,000 annual capacity which produces the Mitsubishi Lancer and Galant sedans.

Mitsubishi Planning A 2013 Plug-In Hybrid

Mitsubishi Px-MiEV

The head of Mitsubishi’s electric vehicle business recently affirmed that the company is planning on introducing a plug-in sport utility vehicle in 2013. The car will be similar with the Px-MiEV concept automobile that was exposed at the Tokyo Auto Show back in 2009, according to the senior executive officer at Mitsubishi Motor Corp. global electric vehicle business Yoshikazu Nakamura. He also affirmed that the car is in its latest stages of development.

The 4WD Px-MiEV was equipped with a 1.6-liter four-cylinder that was linked to a hybrid system consisting of two electric motors (one for the front and the other for the back). Back in 2009 when it was unveiled, the officials at Mitsubishi stated that the car could run for 30 miles in the electric mode, before changing to the gas-electric mode.

The i-MiEV will be available in Hawaii and three West Coast states when the US sales will begin in November 2011. The U.S. name of the vehicle was changed by Mitsubishi from “i-MiEV” to the “i powered by MiEV”.  The “i” model will be available starting with 2012.

Nakamura affirmed that 43 Mitsubishi dealers located in Hawaii, Washingotn, Oregon and California will be selling the “i” in the first years of the United States sales. The Japanese manufacturer does not have a name for the car yet, but it will definitely carry the “MiEV” badge – “Mitsubishi innovative electric vehicle.”


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Mitsubishi i-MiEV will get upgraded before it reaches the US in late 2011

The head of marketing and product planning for Mitsubishi North America, Gregory Adams, has revealed that when the i-MiEV electric city car will arrive on US shores, it will be thoroughly overhauled and enlarged to cater to American regulations and preferences.

The executive revealed that the Mitsubishi i-MiEV, the Japanese carmaker’s big bet in terms of electric vehicles, will be in for quite a lot of changes before it will reach North America, in late 2011.

The US-spec i-MiEV will be larger, in order to accommodate more safety features, and have a revised interior with more options to make people see what they will spend more money on. According to previous reports, Mitsubishi wants a price of under $30,000, without the $7,500 federal tax credit. This will make it one of the cheapest all-electric models on the market, undercutting the upcoming Nissan Leaf.

Until the Mitsubishi i-MiEV hits the US market, the Japanese carmaker is focused on successfully launching it in Europe at the upcoming Paris Motor Show.


2011 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X SE revealed, combines GSR and MR options

In order to give its customers an even better deal when opting for a new Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X, the Japanese company has just revealed a new edition of its powerful sedan.

The 2011 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X SE version will slot in below the top-of-the-range MR, but above the GSR version.

The SE will combine the best of both worlds, taking options from the more hardcore MR but also things from the GSR. Specifically, the dual-clutch TC-SST gearbox, complete with three driving modes (Normal, Sport and Super-Sport) will be standard. It will push the 291 HP and 300 lb-ft of torque through the Evo’s S-AWC all-wheel drive system.

The Evo X SE sports the GSR’s front fascia, combined with a rear diffuser from the MR, and sits on upgraded Bilstein shock absorbers. Recaro seats are present on the inside, sporting a cloth material, instead of the MR’s leather.

Pricing hasn’t been announced, but expect it to sit snugly between the GSR’s $30,000 and the MR’s $40,000 tag.


Mitsubishi Lancer Evo XI might use diesel hybrid technology

Hot off the heels of the rumor that the next generation Subaru Impreza WRX STI might get a diesel version, the guys at Autocar have followed up with the report that the next Mitsubishi Lancer Evo XI will use a diesel hybrid powertrain.

As you may remember, the next Evo has been rumored for quite some time. At the beginning of the year, it was deemed a certainty that the Evo XI will use a hybrid system, combining a gasoline engine and an electric motor.

Now, it seems that the aforementioned project has been changed. Instead of the petrol engine, a diesel unit will work in tandem with the electric motor, in order to continue pushing an adequate amount of power, but also keep the CO2 emissions and fuel average as low as possible.

Besides the powertrain change, not a lot of the features on the current Evo X will be changed. The S-AWC all-wheel drive system will receive slight alterations, in order to cope with the new things.

So, both the next Subaru Impreza WRX STI and the Mitsubishi Lancer Evo XI are scheduled to switch over to diesel engines. How do you think this will affect the popularity of such models? Share your thoughts below.


Citroen and Peugeot to launch their own versions of Mitsubishi ASX/RVR/Outlander Sport

Even though the PSA Peugeot Citroen alliance didn’t manage to successfully purchase Mitsubishi, this doesn’t mean the relationship between the French and the Japanese won’t continue.

As such, it seems that both Peugeot and Citroen will continue the tradition laid out by the 4007 and the C-Crosser or the iOn and the C-Zero, and release their own versions of Mitsubishi’s latest compact crossover.

As you know, for some odd reason, the Japanese company decided to give it different names for each market. The ASX (Europe) RVR (Japan) and Outlander Sport (North America) will now see its multiple personality disorder increase with the Peugeot and Citroen versions.

It is expected that the two French companies will throw in the 1.6-liter HDi engine, capable of low emissions and frugal fuel average, but will also offer the 2.0-liter diesel that Mitsubishi will sell itself for the crossover.

The French versions are expected to appear in early 2012, so until then you can only get the Mitsubishi version.



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Mitsubishi recalls 2004 Endeavor and 2010 Galant over corrosion issues

Mitsubishi has joined the recall party and announced that 2004 Endeavor SUVs and 2010 Galant sedans might suffer from possible corrosion issues, and are set to be called back to dealerships where a solution will be implemented.

56,113 2004 Mitsubishi Endeavor SUVs are a part of this recall, all from states were road salt is used during the winter. It seems that the substance in question, combined with a few other debris, might cause the fuel filler pipe, together with its reinforcing bracket, to leak, spilling fuel.

2,307 2010 Mitsubishi Galant sedans are also affected by the recall, but not because of fuel leaking out. Instead, it seems that the plating on the automatic transmission’s oil cooler pipe may be insufficient, and can’t fully protect it from corrosion. As such, transmission fluid may seep out due to a leak.

Galant models are set to be recalled in March, while Endeavor ones will be visiting dealerships in July. Owners can contact Mitsubishi for more details at 1-800-222-0037.


Mitsubishi’s Ralliart closes down

Mitsubishi hasn’t been doing so well in terms of sales in the last few years, and the signs are beginning to show, as its performance and rally-oriented subsidiary, Ralliart, will begin the wind down procedure, according to a letter sent out to all customers.

While the division will cease to exist, the brand and the Ralliart-badged models, which bridge the gap between the regular Lancer and the Evo one, will continue to be sold. Basically, the Ralliart division will cease from manufacturing any other aftermarket options for Mitsubishi models and shift all of the production and rally projects (like the presence in the Intercontinental Rally Challenge) over to Mitsubishi HQ.

This is definitely a tough moment for fans but at least we’ll still have the memory of the performance division. Hopefully the Japanese company will refrain from any other tough measures in the near future.


Peugeot and Citroen cancel Mitsubishi purchase

A few months ago, rumors were circulating about the current partnership between the French PSA group, formed by Peugeot and Citroen, and Japanese carmaker Mitsubishi. Currently the French companies both use the Outlander platform for their 4008 and C-Crosser SUVs, and are also developing their own electric city cars, the iOn and the C-Zero, both based on the Mitsubishi i-MiEV.

The rumors at that time were deeming certain a transaction which would give PSA a majority stake in Mitsubishi, buying out the Japanese carmaker, and taking their influence global. Talks were speculated, but at the recent 2010 Geneva Motor Show, executives from all three companies met, and a conclusion has been agreed upon.

Surprisingly it seems that certain parameters of the sale haven’t been met, meaning that PSA won’t be buying any stock in Mitsubishi for the time being. Rumors circulated a while back about a purchase of around $3 billion in shares, money which would definitely help a financially-struggling Mitsubishi.

Do you think this is a bad move for PSA or Mitsubishi, or is it for the best for all of the parties involved? Share your thoughts below.


Mitsubishi ASX/RVR will reach North America as Outlander Sport

In yet another move to make automotive writers angry because they have to write more names for the same model, Mitsubishi is reported to bring its new crossover, the RVR (Japan) or the ASX (Europe), to North America under the rather lengthy Outlander Sport name.

The smaller model, if you haven’t heard about it until now, will slot in under the Outlander, both in terms of price and passenger room (two rows of seats opposed to three). It will take the fight to competitors like the Nissan Rogue/Qashqai or Hyundai Tucson and is expected to be priced under $20k.

The main engine, according to some voices will be the 2.0-liter gasoline four-cylinder unit from the Lancer, coupled with a CVT gearbox and electronically-controlled AWD. New engines and the possibility of front-wheel drive are a possibility, but nothing is certain just yet.

Expect the Outlander Sport this fall, while the ASX arrives in summer in Europe. The RVR has already been launched in Japan.


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