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The Economic Collapse Claims Another Victim: Bye Bye, Ralliart

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On: Fri, Mar 12, 2010 at 1:38PM | By: John Welch

The Economic Collapse Claims Another Victim: Bye Bye, Ralliart

Though relatively unknown until Gran Turismo changed all of our misconceptions of foreign car markets, Ralliart has been providing parts to Mitsubishi for over 25 years. The company has also lent its name to several Rally-inspired Mitsus, the most recognizable (for us 'Murrhikens, anyhow) being the Lancer Ralliart.

Mitsubishi doesn't seem all that worried, as now they don't have to pay royalties on a name that is already synonymous with their vehicles. The demise of Ralliart may just be the first in a wave of Jap-o-Tuner deaths, as the Japanese tuning industry has nose-dived in the last two years. The world woke up and realized that nobody wants a 400 horsepower Scion xB. Or Hummers with stoopid rims and three tons worth of stereo equipment. Oh, wait, that last abortion is a uniquely American disaster, sorry, Japan. Didn't mean to reflect my self-loathing on you guys . . . make a race car out of that CR-Z, fellahs, don't mind me . . .

Mitsubishi will continue using the “Ralliart” brand name despite the demise of the Japanese racing parts company this week.

Ralliart Inc., a wholly owned Japanese subsidiary of Mitsubishi Motors Corp., informed global distributors yesterday that it would cease business operations March 31.

In the United States and Europe, Mitsubishi markets a Ralliart sports version of its Lancer, which has become a sporty halo car for the brand. That racing image has, in turn, influenced the styling of other Mitsubishi vehicles, such as the Outlander crossover.

But Mitsubishi does not use Ralliart parts in the United States or distribute them to U.S. retailers.

“We still own the Ralliart name, and we still intend to brand our cars with it,” Maurice Durand, a spokesman for Mitsubishi Motors North America Inc. in Cypress, Calif., said today.

Durand said the industry is still likely to see Ralliart jackets, caps, and other merchandise branding in the years to come.

“The biggest change for us is that we won’t have to pay royalties to use the name anymore,” he said.

In a letter to Ralliart customers around the world that was posted on the company’s Web site, President Masao Taguchi said business conditions “surrounding our company radically became worse” after the economic crash of 2008. Their webpage is at least more forthcoming than USF1 . . .

I discovered that a little thing called "exchange rates" was going to dash all of my Fast-and-Furious hopes well before I could even find a suitable Maxima to 'pimp'. Which is ok; ask any hardcore Japanese tuner who "Stillen" is and you will probably be greeted with a very confused expression. So, we have our tuners and they have theirs. It's just that their tuners are so much cooler than ours. Which is why, for a while, we 'Murrihkens would actually pay outrageous amounts of money for fresh-from-theRising Sun parts and pieces.

Then we all went broke. Then Ralliart couldn't sell $11,000 turbo kits for $900 Mirage Coupes anymore. Then Ralliart went under and Mitsubishi seemed to be happy about it. What a wacky world. Mugen, Nismo, I hope your 401ks are in order . . .


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