How Long Can Japan's Niche Brands Survive?

NICHE: B- and C-segment cars and crossovers, including alternative-powerplant and pure electric models. No more midsize Galant or Lancer Evolution.

BEST-SELLER: Lame-duck Galant is slightly ahead of Lancer, though the Outlander Sport, a close third, is its breakout model.

HALO: Was the Evo, now the I-MiEV.

ALLIANCE: Mitsubishi’s current Lancer/Galant platform is the basis for Chrysler’s FWD midsize cars, but the next Chryslers will share their platform with Fiat.

PROJECTED 2011 SALES: 84,100.

FUTURE MODELS: Colt B-car and Lancer C-car and related crossovers will be the bulk of Mitsubishi’s lineup. Lancer receives a major update for the ’14 model year, making the current car’s cycle a long seven years. If there is an Evo XII–a huge if–it will be on the Colt platform.

PROSPECTS: Though Mitsubishi had a relatively good ’11, it’s a long way back to the 200,000 units per year of the ’90s. Mitsubishi’s banks have propped up the automaker.

ADVISORY: With wafer-thin B- and C-car profits, struggling U.S. dealerships with expensive, once-required stand-alone showrooms will voluntarily end franchises.

OUTLOOK: Marginal.

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