The Outlander PHEV (which stands for Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle) is described by Mitsubishi as the world’s first plug-in hybrid SUV. Its powertrain is a development of systems already in use on pure-electric Mitsubishi vehicles such as the i-MiEV electric city car.
Two separate electric motors are used to drive the front and rear wheels, removing the need for a propshaft and, Mitsubishi says, offers finer control and response than mechanical four-wheel drive systems. As is the nature of electric motors, maximum torque can be generated instantly which should provide the PHEV with acceleration competitive with the rest of the Outlander range.
The car’s lithium-ion batteries have a total voltage of 300V and can reach 80 per cent charge in around 30 minutes in quick-charge mode. Full charging time is approximately 4.5 hours from zero per cent.
The car’s 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine incorporates Mitsubishi’s established MIVEC electronically-controlled variable valve timing system. Target combined fuel efficiency is more than 172mpg, with a combined range of 547 miles or 34 miles in pure EV mode.
The vehicle switches automatically between three driving modes (EV Drive, Series Hybrid and Parallel Hybrid) according to road conditions and available battery charge. In EV Drive mode, the car is driven purely by the front and rear motors taking power from the drive battery. When battery charge sinks below a certain level, or more power is required for overtaking, the car switches to Series Hybrid mode, where the petrol engine acts as a generator to supply electricity to the electric motors. For faster driving, the car switches to Parallel Hybrid mode where the engine does most of the work, with the electric motors contributing when required. It is possible to manually switch the car to a mode where the engine charges the battery, whether stationary or in motion.
The Outlander PHEV will be released in the Japanese market first in early 2013, before being introduced to Europe and North America later in the year. The car is the first part of Mitsubishi’s wider plan to offer its entire range with fully electric or hybridised powertrains.
Elsewhere on Mitsubishi’s stand in Paris will be a first look at the new European version of the company’s global compact car, known as the Mirage in overseas markets.