One hardly knows what to feel about Mitsubishi, but pity and disgust are two emotions that seem appropriate. It was the first manufacturer in the world to offer a plug-in hybrid SUV — the Outlander PHEV. Sales have been strong in many markets around the world, particularly in Europe.
The company has promised the car is coming to the US and Canadian markets ever since 2013, but it is not here yet. After five postponements, it was supposed to be launched here in the fall of this year. Now comes word from the company that the introduction has been pushed back — again — until the summer of 2017.
SUV’s are the hottest segment of the new car market in North America, followed closely by light trucks. As of this moment, almost no one has a plug-in SUV for American and Canadian drivers. Audi likes to thinks its A3 Sportback e-tron is one, but it is really more of a wagon. The BMW X5 plug-in is on sale now and doing well in the marketplace. Last month, it nearly outsold the i3, which goes to show how much demand there is for a plug-in SUV.
Alex Fedorak, public relations manager for Mitsubishi in the US confirmed the latest delay yesterday. “Following a thorough evaluation process, we have determined that, in order to meet a level of competitiveness that will exceed customer expectations in the United States, the launch of the Outlander PHEV will be delayed until the summer of 2017.”
That weasel worded corporate speak may mean that the company is waiting for the upcoming next generation Outlander or it could mean that the company is circling the drain and the Outlander that never was will never be. Mitsubishi is staggering after it was revealed earlier this year that it has been fudging the fuel economy figures for some of its cars for more than 30 years. Sales are plummeting and along with company profits.
Where once the Outlander PHEV was the best selling plug-in vehicle in England and Europe, it has now slipped into third position. In Japan, sales have gone over a cliff. It used to sell 1,000 Outlander PHEV’s a month in the home market, but since the fuel economy cheating scandal broke the trend has been drastically downward. Mitsubishi reported 250 sold in April, 174 in May, and 253 in June.
Mitsubishi may be one of the most poorly managed car companies on earth. It is perennially cast as a “me too” company whose products only mimic the offerings from other companies. It finally had a unique product for the American market, one that would allow it to lead instead of follow, but has consistently shot itself in the foot when it comes to bringing it stateside.
Nissan is looming as a possible savior for the company. If so, it’s likely the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV will never make it to America at all, at least not as a Mitsubishi. Its plug-in technology could be quietly slipped into a Nissan product instead. Don’t get your hopes up for the Outlander PHEV. If past history has any predictive power, it is never going to make it to customers in the US or Canada.
Source: Hybrid Cars