Presenting the buggy-style Mi-Tech concept at the Tokyo motor show, the company’s CEO Takao Kato said that the firm remained “dedicated to electrification, particularly plug-in hybrids”.
Mitsubishi has been a pioneer of plug-in hybrid technology through its Outlander PHEV SUV, which mixes a 2.4-litre petrol engine with a 13.8kWh battery and twin electric motors.
The Mi-Tech’s new system is intended to preview an application for plug-in hybrid technology for smaller SUVs, although such a radical switch towards gas-turbine technology is not something as yet with serious production intent.
The firm's engineering boss Hiroshi Nagoka said that the technology had only been in development at Mitsubishi for a short time, and it was a long way from proving itself in areas including heat management and control, and suitable materials for durability. That said, it is now the subject of an "advanced development" programme, and Mitsubishi will hope to overcome the reliability and durability issues that stopped the technology making production when it was last mooted a few years ago on the Jaguar C-X75 concept car when that was slated to make production.
Mitsubishi’s chief operating officer Ashwani Gupta has however confirmed that it would fit electrification technology to its compact and mid-size SUVs by 2022, meaning the Eclipse Cross is set to join the Outlander PHEV in becoming a plug-in hybrid. The ASX is understood to be being lined up to offer an electric version in its next generation due to the challenges of downsizing a plug-in hybrid system effectively. Mitusbishi’s range of Japan-only kei cars are also set to be electrified before 2022, too.
By 2022, both the ASX and Outlander should have been replaced, with Mitsubishi promising to have greater size differentiation between its three SUVs. To that end, the ASX is set to shrink and the Outlander grow, the latter having been previewed earlier this at the Geneva show with the Engelberg Tourer that included an updated PHEV system with a larger 20kWh battery for an improved 44-mile WLTP electric-only range.
The pure concept car positioning and looks of the Mi-Tech means its not intended as a direct preview of a new model in the way the Engleberg Tourer previewed the next Outlander, but it does still provide some clues to the next-generation ASX and a desire to make that car stand out more. These include features such as the front and rear light designs, and the 'Dynamic Shield' front grille.
The Mi-Tech’s off-road buggy style brings with it chunky off-road tyres, flared wheel arches, and aluminium skid plates, while on the rear deck there are four turbine-like additions to give clues to the concept’s more unusual power source.