Mitsubishi begins development of its next generation Lancer while it waits for a partner

Mitsubishi aggressively cut back its vehicle portfolio in recent years, and while sales of its Outlander have been decent since its remodel, the Japanese automaker’s other offerings, including its Lancer sedan, are rapidly becoming ancient designs.

The brand’s mounting sales challenges prompted the brand to seek a partner to co-develop the next generation Lancer many months ago, but the search has been thus far unsuccessful.

Now, Mitsubishi Motors North America executive vice president Don Swearingen has announced the company has begun working on the next-generation Lancer, partner or not. Swearingen went on to say that Mitsubishi is still looking for a partner, but the automaker can’t wait any longer to begin development.

Considering the current Lancer is over eight year’s old, and that it is the brand’s bread-and-butter product, I would agree with the move to kick off development. As Swearingen put it, if Mitsubishi waits on a partnership and it doesn’t work out, then the brand is another year behind in the process.

Swearingen did mention that Mitsubishi is presently talking with another automaker, and previous information points to Nissan as that would-be co-op. Regardless of whether Mitsubishi finds a partner, we already know an Evo-badged Lancer won’t be built, but a higher performance SUV is rumored to be in the works.

The pressure on Mitsubishi’s designers and engineers to craft a winning compact sedan is immense. The new Lancer not only needs to look good to those considering rivals like the Mazda3, Chevrolet Cruze, and Toyota Corolla, it must offer an engine that is a combination of fuel efficient and punchy. Look for a hybrid or all electric Lancer to join the fold soon after the next generation goes on sale.

Swearingen said that even if a deal were to be completed by the end of the year the model would still be at least 18 months to two years away, so if you’re in the market for a compact sporty sedan, you may be in and out of a lease before the new Lancer arrives at dealers.