Mitsubishi Considering Reintroducing Mirage Small Car in U.S.

Mitsubishi Motor Company plans to launch its new Mirage small car in the North American market sometime in early 2013, but is currently undecided whether or not the launch will include the U.S.  The announcement of its North American aspirations was included in the company’s annual earnings presentation which was released on Friday.

Mitsubishi spokesman Roger Yasukawa said the chances of selling the Mirage in the U.S. are about 50/50. The model was last sold in the U.S. in 2002.

Mitsubishi’s U.S. dealers have been starved for fresh products since the automaker killed the Eclipse, Endeavor and Spyder in 2011, but tight marketing budgets may prevent, or at least postpone, a reintroduction of the Mirage.

The company’s marketing budget has already been stretched thin but this summer’s launch of the Outlander mid-sized crossover.

In an interview with reporters at the company’s U.S. headquarters in Cypress, California last week, Yasukawa said, “Our concern from a timing standpoint is that with the Outlander coming out next year, not too far from a possible launch of the [Mirage] we have to really think about resources,”

There are also concerns about whether or not the new Mirage’s suitable for the U.S. market at this time. The Mirage, which is currently being assembled in Thailand, is extremely small and was designed with the developing Southeast Asia market in mind.

The Mirage is a mere 146.1 inches long and 65.6 inches wide – more than 12 inches shorter than both the Ford Fiesta and Kia Rio subcompacts. The Mirage comes with either a 1.0- or 1.2-liter three-cylinder gas engine and a continuously variable transmission.

If Mitsubishi does decide to sell the Mirage in the U.S., it won’t be the only automaker betting on the minicar segment. General Motors Company’s Chevrolet Spark (due to launch this summer) is about the same size as the Mirage.

Yasukawa said, “There are competitors out there that are still new and most of them have just launched or are coming out soon. It’s still a young segment that’s growing in the U.S., and we have to account for that in our decision.”

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