More stories related to New York Auto Show Mitsubishi Motors North America Inc. will debut the next iteration of its high-powered niche sedan at this month’s New York International Auto Show.

The auto maker, fresh off a miserable 39% sales decline in February vs. like-2004, is polishing plans to unveil a U.S.-specification version of the Lancer Evolution IX, which goes on sale in Japan this month.

MMNA currently sells a 276-hp version of the Evolution VII in the U.S. for $36,999, fitted with standard all-wheel drive and a turbocharged 4-cyl. mill.

Mitsubishi’s Japanese version of Evolution IX.

Corporate parent Mitsubishi Motors Corp. targets 5,000 buyers for the Evolution in Japan annually, but U.S. numbers are not broken out from overall Lancer sales, which totaled 41,706 in 2004, 13% less than 2003.

An MMNA spokeswoman tells Ward’s the forthcoming vehicle – based on Mitsubishi’s popular World Rally Championship racecar – will retain many features from the Japanese version. However, an active yaw-control system designed for stability will be deleted due to packaging constraints, she says.

Utilizing the New York show to break Evolution news is becoming a Mitsubishi trend. In 2004, it announced a special-edition Evolution for the U.S. that would sell in extremely limited volumes. (See related story: Mitsubishi to Sell Special-Edition Evolution in U.S.)

Lancer sales could use a healthy dose of supercharging, with February’s delivery count of 3,085 falling 47% short of like-2004’s tally. In the year’s first two months, Lancer sales were 48% softer than last year.

Nevertheless, the Lancer, geared to attract Gen Y buyers, will have to fight for attention in New York. The vehicle will debut immediately following Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc.’s Scion March 24 press conference, which likely will provide a glimpse of its fourth product offering. (See related story: Scion’s Next Product Set for New York Show)

Scion is tightlipped on what it will show the media, but some hint the vehicle may be a rally-inspired car much like the Lancer Evolution.

jstoll@primediabusiness.com