For an automaker such as Mitsubishi, which makes most of its profits from the sales of four-wheel drive SUVs, times are especially tough. Market realities have forced the Japanese automaker to reprioritize its research and development spending; anything without a decidedly green tint has got to go. Taking the place of large gas-guzzling SUVs will be plug-in hybrids, small cars and fully-electric machinery. Unfortunately, such sweeping changes will take until 2013 to really take effect, so don't expect to see Mitsubishi drop SUVs and large cars entirely from its lineup any time soon. Instead, the automaker seems likely to add fuel-saving features to its existing models as quickly as possible.
Mitsubishi's first foray into electric vehicles will be the production version of the i MiEV, which should be ready for sale in Japan and various European countries in 2010. Sales in the United States should begin in 2011.