The Mitsubishi PX-MiEV, a mid-sized SUV plug-in hybrid, initially debuted at the 2009 Tokyo Motor Show. The vehicle’s lithium ion battery pack stores enough energy to provide about 30 miles of all-electric driving. When the batteries are depleted, a 1.6-liter 114-horsepower four-cylinder engine kicks on to either charge the battery or provide power to the wheels.
The system can determine which of the three configurations—pure electric, engine-to-battery charging, or engine-to-wheels power—offers the most efficiency for any particular driving condition. The advantage to this level of flexibility is not only efficiency, but also safety. If road conditions get slick, the Outlander can use its two electric motors to dole out torque both front-to-rear and side-to-side to provide maximum four-wheel-drive stability. Each electric motor generates 60 hp and 148 lb-ft of torque.
The Outlander has clean sleek lines, although the front bumper-grille is a bit overdone and awkward. That’s a small price to pay for a fully capable SUV that can achieve about 120 mpg. (Of course, that number doesn’t include a fair chunk of the vehicle’s energy that comes from electricity rather than gasoline.)
Mitsubishi was aiming for a production version to be released around 2013, but that has continually been delayed. Maybe late 2014?