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9 Cool Facts From Mitsubishi at the 2014 L.A. Auto Show

Motor Trend logo Motor Trend 11/24/2014 Zach Gale

The attractive Mitsubishi XR-PHEV concept looked good at the automaker's 2014 Los Angeles Auto Show press conference -- the crossover may not be new, but as we learned last week, that doesn't take away from its strong design, with or without that bright red paint. Mitsubishi sales are up a significant 30.5 percent so far in 2014 thanks in large part to the new Mirage, but remove that subcompact from the picture and U.S. sales are flat year-to-date through October. We talked to Don Swearingen, Mitsubishi Motors North America's executive vice president, to get a better picture on what's next for the brand.

Not going anywhere.Two years after Suzuki left the U.S. market, Mitsubishi still feels the need to assure journalists the small Japanese automaker is not only staying in the U.S., it's got positive momentum.

"Mitsubishi Motors has never given up," Swearingen said in Mitsubishi's Los Angeles show press conference. "We are committed to this market and we are here to stay."

9 Cool Facts From Mitsubishi at the 2014 L.A. Auto Show

Attention Mitsubishi collectors: The Lancer Evo won't be discontinued before the automaker releases a special-edition model. "It's time has come and gone," Swearingen said, then noting that the sound of tomorrow is the MiEV Evolution III, which did well at Pikes Peak this year.

MORE POWER...is coming to the 2015 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport as a mid-year release. The optional 2.4-liter I-4 will likely go a long way toward addressing one of the primary complaints we had about our 2011 Outlander Sport SE AWD. About that 148-hp compact crossover, we said "freeway on-ramp merges and passing on two-lane roads required careful planning." The more volume-oriented 2.0-liter I-4 model won't get left out, either -- the crossover gets a more refined CVT as well as a quieter cabin. 2015 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport SE© Provided by MotorTrend 2015 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport SE

Mitsubishi Motors North American is the second-largest distributor of vehicles for the automaker behind Indonesia. As you'd expect, you have a lot more influence in future products when you're one of the bigger markets for an automaker.

"We're more focused now than ever" - That's Swearingen on how the company has changed over the last 18 years. Swearingen has worked at the company since 1995 (except for one 10-month period in the middle), and says that the company's departments "work, truly, more as a team." When a decision is made about a new product, Swearingen says that now, they are all on the same page about the way forward. "By forcing us to get an agreement in these meetings," Swearingen explains, "it allows us to leave united as a team, and you don't have the bickering between the departments." Mitsubishi XR PHEV Concept© Provided by MotorTrend Mitsubishi XR PHEV Concept

Seeing new Mirages in Mitsubishi dealer's used-car lot? It's not an accident. What started as an idea at one dealer group is now something the automaker encourages other dealers to do: Pitch the Mirage, whose sales through October make it Mitsubishi's second-best-selling vehicle, as a used-car alternative.

Speaking of Mirage, the sedan is now confirmed for the U.S. We suspected Mitsubishi might be planning to bring the model to our shores when it showed off the Concept G4 at its U.S. headquarters earlier this year. Now, Swearingen puts an end to the speculation: "We're bringing the sedan version over." No timeline was given, but expect the Mirage sedan to roll into dealerships within a year or two, considering the model is already sold overseas as the Attrage. 2014 Mitsubishi Attrage front right side© Provided by MotorTrend 2014 Mitsubishi Attrage front right side

A redesigned Outlander will arrive at the 2015 New York Auto Show, with the plug-in variant -- likely to be the first all-wheel-drive PHEV offered in the U.S. -- launching a few months after that.

A plug-in hybrid version of the Outlander Sport is "in the works," but before a model like that arrives, Mitsubishi needs to up the production of the PHEV components to meet demand for the Outlander PHEV in Europe and Japan, and then the U.S.

Mitsubishi XR PHEV Concept© Provided by MotorTrend Mitsubishi XR PHEV Concept
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