DaimlerChrysler SA is preparing to launch more derivates of the Mitsubishi Lancer in South Africa this year, but meanwhile the Japanese firm is rationalising its passenger car lineup to focus on building SUVs.

DaimlerChrysler SA is preparing to launch more derivates of the Mitsubishi Lancer in South Africa this year, but meanwhile the Japanese firm is rationalising its passenger car lineup to focus on building SUVs.

CARtoday.com reported earlier this year that DaimlerChrysler SA would add more derivatives of the Mitsubishi Lancer, a vehicle that made one of its first appearances in South Africa at the Auto Africa Motor Show last year, to the local market.

There is currently only a solitary 1,6-litre derivative of the Lancer available in South Africa, but DaimlerChrysler SA spokesman Bennie van Rensburg told CARtoday.com this week that, towards the end of the year, a two-litre variant of model could be introduced. In addition, the Playstation Generation will be eagerly awaiting the Lancer Evo VIII - Mitsubishi’s rally-inspired answer to the Subaru Impreza WRX STi

But in the meantime, Mitsubishi appears set to reduce its sedan lineup from three models to two and shift resources to MPVs and SUVs, the newspaper reported.

A Mitsubishi spokesman said a reduction of the saloon lineup was being discussed under the manufacturer’s plan to concentrate resources on more successful models, but added that nothing had been finalised.

"That (possibility) has been brought to the discussion table, but it is just one of many options," the spokesman said. "We hope to have a final decision around the middle of the year."

In a bid to slash development costs in the face of sluggish domestic revenues, Japan's fourth-biggest manufacturer has been forced to reduce its model lineup - The sedan segment is one of the weakest areas for the Mitsubishi, which is better known for its sport-utility vehicles.

The Nihon Keizai report said that Mitsubishi, owned 37 per cent by DaimlerChrysler AG, planned to integrate its Diamante and Galant sedans into a new vehicle by 2005. Mitsubishi aims to strengthen its domestic sales through value-added features, such as the built-to-order method first introduced in the popular Colt subcompact in November.

Apart from reducing the number of models in Japan, senior vice president Eiji Iwakuni, who oversees domestic sales and marketing, said earlier this month that the Mitsubishi may eventually develop a car aimed specifically at boosting the company's image, which was tarnished by the recall of nearly two million cars in 2000.

Original article from Car