Mitsubishi Lancer hits the end of the road in India

The media is abuzz with reports that the Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X, launched just a couple of years back to the sheer excitement of automotive enthusiasts across the country, has been discontinued. A quick look at Mitsubishi India's website also reveals that the Evo is not listed in the portfolio anymore. With this, we Indians can not buy a car badged 'Lancer' from the showrooms anymore. Honestly, we don't know if the Cedia is still being sold and even if it is, it is devoid of Lancer badging anywhere on its body.

Looking at the double-digit sales figures that the Evo X managed over the last two years, it isn't surprising that Hindustan Motors took this decision. It just isn't viable to keep a model ticking with such dismal sales. What's really frustrating though is the way in which the once-cult "Lancer" brand was treated and allowed to die a slow death in India.

It was less than a decade since the Central Government's economic reforms opened up the Indian automobile industry. It was just a couple of years since international marques started entering our market. Those were the days when Indians went gaga over cars like the Honda City, Opel Astra, Daewoo Cielo and Ford Escort. As the market embraced the then-new "foreign" cars that were descending in, the 800, Esteem and Omni suddenly started to look insignificant and the Ambassador and Premier Padmini were given cold shoulders. That's when the Mitsubishi Lancer came in through an official licensing agreement that allowed the erstwhile Hindustan Motors to make and sell the car in India.

That the Lancer met with an arousing reception would be an understatement. With an absolutely gorgeous design, a never-before-seen build quality courtesy the completely knocked down kits that came in from Japan, frugal and reliable engine options and superb ride and handling, the Mitsubishi Lancer captured the heads and hearts of the Indian public all at once. Critics swore by the Lancer, customers loved the car, sales peaked and the Lancer became "the dream car" for every other individual in the country. For a car that enjoyed such roaring popularity and success on our roads in its initial years, the last few years has been quite a disaster.

Hindustan Motors was way too slow in responding to changing market conditions and new models from the Mitsubishi stable took ages to reach our market. The Cedia, for instance, was launched here when it was on the verge of replacement in the international markets. To add to that, none of the Mitsubishi models in India have had a proper sustained marketing campaign to reach out to the public. To compound the miseries further, dealers were far and few in between and even the few that existed weren't known for providing good after-sales support. They can't be totally blamed either, as they had to wait for weeks together for even simple spares to arrive.

A combination of all the above factors meant that the Lancer fell off the car-buyer's radar and was left to fend off for itself. As the competition grew stronger, it became a laughing stock and eventually met an inglorious end in India. Evo or no Evo, nothing could save the model and bring it back to life. It is quite an irony given the Lancer's rich legacy and popularity. Well, all we can do is swallow the bitter pill and let the Lancer rest in peace!


  1. It isn't uncommon for once popular cars to start showing mediocre sales after a certain period of time but the way the Lancer started slipping was huge!

    1. Maybe yes, but in this case, even the company abandoned the model, which was really frustrating. In its more than a decade life span, there was hardly any substantial facelift or improvement to keep it going.