The Mitsubishi Evo is one of the most legendary Japanese performance cars of all time.
Fueled by a famous rivalry with Subaru’s WRX STI, the Evo remains a highly desirable car a number of years after production ended of the final generation.
But why did Mitsubishi kill the Evo off?
You’d think that if a vehicle was as popular and as successful (both on and off the road) as the Evo, that a company like Mitsubishi would want to continue to make it in order to keep the sales rolling in.
In this short edition of Car Facts, we dive deeper into the reasons why Mitsubishi stopped making the Lancer Evolution (Evo).
Don’t forget to check out our Mitsubishi Evo buyer’s guide as well, if you’re interested in getting your own example of this absolutely legendary performance vehicle.
We reckon we have put together the best, most detailed Evo buying guide on the Internet.
Why Mitsubishi Stopped Making Performance Cars Altogether
The first thing to consider is that Mitsubishi has basically stopped making performance cars altogether.
There’s actually been a bit of a trend in recent years for car manufacturers (particularly Japanese ones) to scale back the number of performance models in their ranges.
Consider the “peak era” of Japanese performance motoring (the mid/late 90s through to early 2000s) – basically the Gran Turismo era for anyone familiar with that game.
Just about every Japanese manufacturer had a suite of high performance cars, as well as performance variants of regular models.
There was a veritable smorgasbord of exciting cars on offer from the Land of the Rising Sun.
Mitsubishi alone produced some fantastic performance cars in this era, such as:
- 3000GT/GTO – Go here to read our 3000GT/GTO buyer’s guide.
- Eclipse turbo
- FTO (particularly the GPX version with the high-revving 2.0 V6 with MIVEC)
- Legnum & Galant VR4
- Pajero Evo
- Mirage Cyborg R
- Diamante VR-X
- And – of course – the Lancer Evolution
Now, there isn’t a single performance vehicle in Mitsubishi’s line up.
Apart from the new Mirage (supposedly one of the worst new cars on the market, according to Doug De Muro) and the Triton utility vehicle, just about everything else that Mitsubishi makes is some kind of crossover or SUV.
So how did the company responsible for producing cars like these:
Reach the point where it now makes cars that look like this, without a single performance variant:
So why did Mitsubishi follow the trend (to even greater extremes than many other manufacturers) and stop making performance cars to focus only on SUVs/crossovers and a few other basic vehicles?
Long story short, this trend is driven largely by consumer preference.
Although car enthusiasts (such as the readers of Garage Dreams) long for the days where every main dealer lot was jam-packed with performance options, the truth is that the money is in supplying reliable, practical, and economical crossover vehicles to “middle of the road” car buyers.
A manager for Mitsubishi UK told Car Throttle in 2018:
“Mitsubishi’s focus is now SUVs, crossover, four-wheel drive, along with alternative fuel technology,” he said, adding “Mitsubishi has moved around different brand positionings, whether it’s been Spacestar style vehicles or sports car derivatives, Evo – it’s not had that clarity of focus.”
Basically, Mitsubishi wants to focus on the sector of the market where it is likely to get the best sales volume and profit (performance cars can be notoriously unprofitable for manufacturers to develop and sell, and using them as “loss leaders” to spark interest in the brand and lower specced cars doesn’t seem to be as popular of a play as it was in bygone years).
So, why did Mitsubishi kill of the Evo?
Basically, for the same reason they killed off all their other performance cars; they don’t want to invest in R&D and production for cars that aren’t likely to make the sales volume and profit required.
In the grand scheme of the automotive industry, Mitsubishi is now a small player. Therefore, they require focus to be successful, and that focus is on efficient, utilitarian, reliable vehicles for people who buy cars based on the number of cup holders and folding seats.
Is Mitsubishi Bringing The Evo Back?
No, at least not any time soon.
In fact, Mitsubishi are extremely clear and unequivocal in stating that the Evo has finished production for good, with a dedicated page on their site about the Lancer and Lancer Evolution:
While there are always rumours about manufacturers resurrecting vehicles of old (the most common one being whether or not Mazda will bring back the RX-7 or a new rotary) it does seem that Mitsubishi really have laid the Evo to rest for good.
Will Mitsubishi Make A New Sports Car?
If Mitsubishi won’t make the Evo any more, will they make a new sports car?
Once again, this seems incredibly unlikely.
Mitsubishi are unequivocal (at least publicly) that their focus is on developing and producing SUVs/crossovers, particularly hybrid and alternative fuel models.
They have no public plans to make any kind of new sports car.
Conclusion – Why Did Mitsubishi Stop Making The Evo
Long story short, Mitsubishi stopped making the Evo for the same reason it stopped making all of its other great performance cars – money.
More specifically, consumer tastes and preferences are changing.
Most buyers want cars that are practical, reliable and economical. Most buyers also want these traits packaged up in a crossover or SUV form, and care little for outright performance or excitement.
While car enthusiasts have a tendency to be a “vocal minority”, ultimately the “silent majority” of car buyers want the types of cars we see in Mitsubishi’s lineup today.
Although many will claim (particularly online) that they would love to buy a new Evo if one were available today, the truth is that many of the people making such claims would not be likely to actually follow through and purchase.
There is serious risk for a company like Mitsubishi in developing a new performance vehicle, such as a new generation of the Evo, only to have it be a commercial flop. This could be a fatal move for a company, especially in the current, challenging commercial climate.
It might be disappointing and frustrating for those of us who desire a return to the era of speed, handling and excitement, but ultimately it’s also hard to blame a company like Mitsubishi for making what their customers want.
Most people just want economical transport (ideally with eco-friendly credentials) that will move them and the kids in comfort, safety and convenience.
Perhaps the biggest opportunity for a resurrection of the legendary Evo badge will come if other, larger Japanese manufacturers are successful with any new performance cars.
For example, if Toyota do well with the new GR Yaris, then maybe Mitsubishi might be tempted to bring the Evo back (or at least come up with another performance car – maybe a return of the Mirage Cyborg!)
With Mitsubishi having stopped making the Evo (and no return on the horizon) now is the time to be looking to pick up an Evo of your own. Prices have been going gangbusters in recent years, and will probably only continue to climb as more examples fall victim to old age, neglect and accidents.
Read our Mitsbushi Evo buyer’s guide here for more information on securing yourself a good example of this fallen badge.
2 thoughts on “Why Did Mitsubishi Kill The Evo?”
You’re right. Most consumers want little shit box cars that aren’t worth half of what they cost. The Evo was an amazing car that punched WAY above its price tag. It could outperform cars that cost nearly twice as much, still get decent mileage, and take you to and from work without breaking the bank or your back. Who would want that when you can just jump into some uninspiring lump of crap and mindlessly lumber off to whatever boring job you have?
Well, when you put it like that …
The role of the “niche” performance automobile is always challenged, especially once we got to a time of less affordable fuel prices, emissions concerns etc.
Toyota has proven you can do it (bring back the fun) with the Yaris GR, Corolla GR etc – will other manufacturers pay attention and do their bit as well?