Japanese automaker Mitsubishi has been in a bit of a lurch these days as its aging product lineup has a hard time competing with newer, more exciting and fuel-efficient vehicles. But Mitsu is hoping that its Outlander plug-in hybrid vehicle can recover some of that lost mojo.
Give Mitsubishi credit, they are at least aiming high, with a combined fuel economy goal of 143 mpg for their upcoming hybrid SUV.
Big SUV With Big MPGs
The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV (Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle) will utilize a hybrid system that couples a 2.0 liter gas engine with a pair of electric motors, one for each axle. What makes this system unique is that it can operate in pure EV, series, or parallel hybrid modes.
In EV mode, the 12 kWh battery can drive the Outlander for about 34 miles without using a single drop of petrol. That is about the same range as the Chevy Volt, and certainly isn’t shabby for a big Japanese SUV. The similarities to the Volt don’t end there.
Many Modes, One Vehicle
Once the battery is depleted, the 2.0 liter gas engine becomes a gas generator, charging the battery while electric motors continue to propel the Outlander. Finally, at higher speeds, the gasoline engine will join the electric motors in powering the Outlander, reverting to standard parallel-hybrid mode.
With a fully-charged battery and a full tank of gas, Mitsubishi claims the Outlander PHEV will have a range of 547 miles, and will consume fuel at a combined rate of 61 km/per liter, which roughly translates to 143 MPGe. Wowzers!
Whether those numbers hold up to U.S. market standards remains to be seen, but the Outlander PHEV could be exactly what Mitsubishi needs to get the wheels rolling again. A high-efficiency SUV like this is exactly what the American market needs. But the question now becomes…what will it cost? We’ll have to wait to find out, as Mitsubishi hasn’t released pricing details yet.
Mitsubishi needs to come up with some bold vehicles to get back in the game, and the Outlander PHEV is a good start. But it alone won’t turn around Mitsu’s fortunes. The all-electric i-MiEV is a decent attempt at making an affordable EV, and rumors speculate that the next Lancer Evolution could get a diesel-hybrid setup. But these cars can’t come soon enough for the ailing automaker.
Look for the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV to hit dealerships worldwide sometime in the next year.