It’s a trying time for sedans and hatchbacks, as SUVs continue to rule the roost and conquest sales. Ford has already made the decision to axe its passenger cars in the United States to focus (no pun intended) on its trucks and crossovers, and as the market continues to contract, we’re sure there are plenty of other carmakers out there who are pondering a similar move.

You might have thought that Mitsubishi would’ve followed suit, as it hasn’t had a strong passenger car lineup in a very long time. While it has a complete SUV and pick-up range in the form of the ASX, Eclipse Cross, Outlander, Pajero Sport and Triton, the budget Mirage hatchback is the only “regular” car it still sells. But a new report from GoAuto.com.au suggests that the Three Diamonds brand isn’t throwing in the towel just yet.

According to chief operating officer Trevor Mann, the company is not only considering a replacement for the Mirage, but also for the forlorn Lancer sedan – although they won’t be arriving anytime soon. “If you look at the carpark today there are many small hatches, there are many medium-sized sedans, particularly in ASEAN and to some extent Oceania, China and the US.

“But the general trend is to move towards SUVs, so at the moment the profitability on small to medium sedan vehicles is squeezed because people are trying to justify their existing capacity. We are reviewing our long-range product plan – we’re not saying yes, we’re not saying no – but obviously we’ve got some ideas in the pipeline,” he said at the unveiling of the facelifted Triton in Thailand recently.

Indeed, Mann said that the company has already begun development of the next-generation Mirage, but stopped short of confirming the platform on which it will be based – even though it is currently in an alliance with Renault and Nissan, which have the Common Modular Family (CMF) architecture.

“We haven’t announced anything on the next Mirage, [but] we will be converging on platforms,” he said. “The Alliance has a platform which it calls CMF-B, so it’s likely that the next Mirage will be on the CMF-B platform, but not decided yet.”

If it does move to CMF-B, it will share its underpinnings with the latest Nissan March, as well as the next Juke, Renault Clio and Captur. And that’s not all, as Mann added that the next Lancer could also be based on an alliance platform. “It wouldn’t necessarily be on the Megane platform, [but] if we are talking about passenger vehicles, depending on the size, it would be on the CMF-C platform,” he said.

Mann’s comments were echoed by Mitsubishi’s corporate vice president of product strategy, Vincent Cobee, who said that the passenger vehicle market still commands a large portion of the global volume, strengthening the business case for replacements of the two models.

The next Mirage and Lancer will likely be based on the Common Modular Family (CMF),
which underpins the latest Nissan March (left) and Renault Megane (right)

“If we project ourselves five years, the total global market will be 110 to 115 million cars and the passenger cars will still represent 40 to 50 million,” he said. “I know all of you guys write about the growth and emergence of SUVs and it’s correct, its 35 to 37% of the total market today and it’s still growing. But that doesn’t eradicate the fact that there will be 40 to 50 million cars that will be traditional passenger cars.”

Cobee added that Mitsubishi’s strong presence in the ASEAN pick-up and SUV market is driving the development of its passenger vehicles. “All of that is supporting the development of those cars and the development of the Pajero Sport and the trilogy of Outlander, Eclipse Cross and ASX.

“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. We are contemplating which kinds of segments, which kinds of destinations, while acknowledging the slowly downward trend of that segment, but for sure not a disappearance,” he said.