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Friday, October 22, 2021

Mitsubishi Australia coy on Ralliart return

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Mitsubishi Australia would “love” to revitalise Ralliart, but will take a cautious approach until it can be sure the promised return brings performance upgrades and not just sticker packs.

This comes in the context of its last business plan which included a slide confirming Ralliart’s bold return accompanied by a digital image of a lowered and sticker-clad Triton ute. 

The company added it would sell Ralliart Parts – aerodynamic add ons and body work, perhaps performance upgrades – and subsequently Mitsubishi Motors CEO Takao Kato said his brand would return to motorsport events worldwide.

It’s all billed as part of a push to add extra “Mitsubishi Motors-ness” to upcoming vehicles, says the company. Whatever that means, it hints at getting back to some of the amazing rally engineering it was famous for in WRC and Dakar.

Mitsubishi’s Australian division says it doesn’t have a clear insight yet into what the parent company’s plans actually are, and wouldn’t go near relaunching the branding until it knew what it could entail.

“We’d love to see Ralliart come back but if it comes back we want it in a particular way,” Mitsubishi Australia’s head of product strategy Owen Thomson told us.

“It has heritage and there’s memory in the market.

“We’re very cautious about the way it comes back, we’re aware of what’s happening overseas but we need to see the details.”

Ralliart’s history as a high-performance and motorsport development arm for Mitsubishi includes crowning achievements like various iterations of Lancer Evos made famous with Tommi Mäkinen at the wheel.

There will be no more Lancer Evolution, however Mitsubishi’s big SUV focus and long-standing Dakar Rally success make it an obvious candidate to get more involved in rally raid or cross-country 4×4 rallying, with road-going spinoffs brought to fruition from there.

Mitsubishi has long expressed a desire to sex up the image of its twin-motor plug-in hybrid drivetrain with performance updates, especially given the degree of all-wheel control on tap.

“We don’t have any plan to combine PHEV and Ralliart right now, we want to understand what the parent company’s plan is,” was all Mr Thompson would add on that.

Watch this space.

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