Don’t Call It A Comeback
I’ve got to give Mitsubishi credit for taking a big gamble when it comes to hybrid and electric vehicles, ending production of three of its best-known models (Galant, Eclipse, and Endeavor) to make way for a lineup of electrified, fuel-efficient vehicles. We already know that the Mitsubishi i will be America’s cheapest electric car, and now the Japanese automaker has revealed its next two vehicles; a hybrid crossover likely to be the next Outlander (currently named PX-MiEV) and a fuel-efficient Mirage that is lighter and features start-stop tech for an MPG of around 70 mpg (which is more like 40 mpg or so on the U.S. testing standard.)
The PX-MiEV will actually borrow components from the Mitsubishi i, including its large lithium-ion battery pack. But due to the heavier weight and all-wheel drive system, the PX-MiEV will only achieve around 31 miles of all-electric range. After that, a 2.0 liter generator recharges the battery pack, which powers two electric motors (one up front, one in the back.)
Goodbye Colt, Welcome Back Mirage
Which brings us to Mitsubishi’s other offering, a new Mirage model that is lighter and more fuel efficient than previous models. It’s about 10% lighter than the Colt it replaces, and is powered by a 1.0 liter 3-cylinder engine with stop-start idle technology. Better aerodynamics will also help improve fuel economy to around 70 mpg on the Japanese cycle (about 40 mpg as the EPA flies.) The Mirage and Outlander/PX-MiEV are expected to hit streets in Japan and the U.S. in 2013, and will make their world debut at the Tokyo Auto Show in the coming weeks.
Still, Mitsubishi has its work cut out for it, especially here in America. But with bold steps, like a diesel-electric hybrid Lancer Evolution and these more “pedestrian” vehicles like the Mirage and Outlander, Mitsu could stage a late-game comeback. Will Mitsubishi’s new lineup help get it back on track, or contribute to its downfall as an independent automaker?