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Mitsubishi has already hit the headlines today after it announced an update to its engine technology to improve fuel economy across its range, but now U.K.-based Autocar says Mitsubishi Boss Osamu Masuko has confirmed that the next Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution will be powered by a diesel-electric hybrid system.
The news that Mitsubishi’s next rally-inspired all-wheel drive sedan would be powered by a diesel electric drivetrain is hardly new. Last year, Autocar ran a story in which it claimed sources within Mitsubishi’s research and development team had started on a new diesel-electric drivetrain for the eleventh generation of its sporty sedan.
Mitsubishi CEO Osamu Masuko wasn’t big on details, but did confirm that the worldwide drive towards more fuel efficient cars as well as tightening emissions regulations was the reason behind the move to hybrid technology.
In the high-octane world of rallying, moving away from traditional gasoline engines towards diesel technology is a big step. And while most Evos never see life off the blacktop, those who own them are hardened fans of the sport. Fans who are most likely not big on hybrids
So combining that diesel engine with a hybrid drivetrain? That’s a giant leap.
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The current Mitsubishi Evo X is due to end production in 2013, with the hybrid-engined XI due some time after that.
“We will start on the project next year,” Masuko told Autocar. “And it will be ready within three.”
As for performance? Autocar claims the yet-to-be-developed Evolution XI will give a 0-60 time of under 5 seconds, while drastically cutting tailpipe emissions.
The Mitsubishi Evo isn’t exactly the most popular car in the U.S., with fans of the four-wheel-drive rally-ready car constituting a niche within a niche market. Making the switch from gasoline to diesel may make it even less popular among lovers of speed and power who probably don’t want to loose the current Evo’s 286 horsepower 2-liter inline-4 aluminum turbocharged engine.
“I have set a goal of developing a sporting car featuring electric power,” Masuko told Autocar. With the potential to be Mitsubishi’s flagship car, let’s hope his team can achieve that.