You would think that for a country as obsessed with pickup trucks as America is, there would be more powertrain options when it comes to buying a new one. But America’s automakers have been slow to offer an alternative to the standard V6 or V8 gasoline engines, leaving the door open for a more innovative solution. Enter the Mitsubishi GR-HEV, a diesel-electric hybrid pickup that could point towards the future of medium-size trucks.
Mitsubishi has not sold a pickup in America since 2009, when the rebadged Dodge Dakota hit lots as the Mitsubishi Raider. Yet there are plenty of Mitsubishi box trucks to be found in America, and overseas the L200 pickup is popular with developing nations and the first world alike. It’s fair to say that Mitsubishi has some experience in building trucks.
That is why the GR-HEV concept is so exciting. While just a concept, and with few technical details provided, a diesel-electric pickup could offer far more efficiency than the current crop of V6 models. While Mitsubishi doesn’t talk mpgs, they do note that CO2 emissions of the 2.5 liter diesel engine will be rated at 149 g/km, which loosely translated is around 36 mpg with the Super All Wheel Control System full-time 4WD. The much ballyhooed global Ford Ranger diesel emits about 264 g/km, which works out to about 20 mpg.
Right now the 2013 Ram 1500 pickup with two-wheel drive and a 3.6 liter V6 engine is the MPG champion, boasting up to 25 mpg on the highway. Ford is rumored to have joined forces with Toyota on a hybrid pickup, and Chrysler is working on its own plug-in hybrid, as well as an EcoDiesel V6-powered Ram.
But Mitsubishi is the first company to debut a pickup concept in some time that boasts anything other than a gas engine. Even if it is a concept, and it debuted over in Europe, Mitsubishi could find a lot of interested buyers for such a vehicle…if they have the cajones to build it in America.
Mitsubishi’s press release does say that the application of hybrid technology to larger, tougher vehicles is “the next logical step”, but for now this concept remains very much in the “Do-Want-But-Won’t-Get” category.