Mitsubishi Pins EV Hopes on Outlander Plug-in Hybrid

By · December 06, 2012

Mitsubishi’s U.K. division believes the upcoming Outlander plug-in hybrid SUV will be the company’s most important car sold in decades, according to U.K.’s Car Dealer magazine. In an article posted today, the magazine quoted Toby Marshall, Mitsubishi sales and marketing director, saying, “We can sell as many as we want.” This is not the first time Mitsubishi has pinned big hopes on plug-in cars—which have not yet materialized.

In the period leading up to the introduction of the Nissan LEAF and Chevy Volt, circa 2010, the small Mitsubishi i-MiEV—its name has since been reduced to lowercase “i”—was considered one of the frontrunners in the EV market. And in January 2011, Mitsubishi garnered headlines for announcing bold environmental initiatives for 2015 and 2020, using EVs to rebrand its entire line of automobiles. The goal at the time was to launch six new electrified models by 2015—including two new plug-in hybrids in 2012, a new EV in 2013, and yet another new EV in 2014.

We’re almost done with 2012, and there’s little evidence that Mitsubishi will hit any of these goals. Through November 2012, the company has sold only 511 units of the Mitsubishi i in the United States (adding to 80 sales from 2011).

Back to Drawing Board: Shift from EV to PHEV

In the report by Car Dealer magazine, Mitsubishi’s Marshall hinted that the Outlander plug-in hybrid would be priced “under £40,000” after incentives in the U.K.—which translates to about US $65,000. (It’s hard to predict how the Outlander will be priced in the U.S. based on European pricing.)

The U.S. sticker price for the Mitsubishi i, right around $30,000, is one of its biggest drawbacks—considering that the small EV costs nearly the same as a Nissan LEAF, a car that is bigger, more powerful, has more range, and feels much more substantial a vehicle than the wispy i.

In October, Australia’s Car Advice website reported that Osamu Masuko, Mitsubishi’s president, admitted that its EV plans were not working out. “The customer is recognizing that the price point is important and the infrastructure and the cruising range as well,” Masuko said. “To solve this issue, our resolution was plug-in hybrids, which accommodate the issue of cruising range, which now achieves 500 miles.” Masuko, speaking at the Sydney auto show, also blamed low EV sales on the poor state of the European car market, and the high Japanese Yen.

Outlander PHEV in Paris

The 2014 redesigned Outlander on display at the 2012 Los Angeles auto show.

Subcompact bubble-like electric cars with 60 miles of range (such as the i) are unlikely to appeal to red-blooded American car buyers anytime soon. However, the market currently lacks a four-wheel-drive seven-seat SUV with a plug-in hybrid drivetrain (offering 500+ miles of total range). I’m guessing that many EV drivers would like to have a larger PHEV garage-mate, like the Outlander, which offers about 30 miles of all-electric range via two electric motors (one in back and one in front) and a 12 kilowatt-hour battery pack, with a 2-liter gas engine available for long-distance travel. The model might also bring new types of U.S. car owners to the plug-in market—those American drivers who prefer riding high in a SUV.

The PHEV version of the Outlander has its world premiere at this year’s Paris motor show. Mitsubishi also unveiled the redesigned 2014 Outlander at the L.A. auto show this month. It is more rounded and aerodynamic, lighter, and less aggressive in appearance than its predecessor. The new Outlander, in its purely gas-powered variant, will be offered with either a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine or a 3.0L V-6 drivetrain. There’s a long list of safety and entertainment features. Pricing for the gas versions will likely be in the mid-$20,000s, with sales expected in mid-2013.

There’s no definitive word yet on pricing for the plug-in version. In June, Mitsubishi said the Outlander Plug-in Hybrid will be released in late 2013 or early 2014.

Comments

· · 2 years ago

I agree that we are severely lacking PHEV SUVs. We're still waiting for that Voltec Equinox....

· · 2 years ago

I disagree with this statement:

"The U.S. sticker price for the Mitsubishi i, right around $30,000, is one of its biggest drawbacks—considering that the small EV costs nearly the same as a Nissan LEAF, a car that is bigger, more powerful, has more range, and feels much more substantial a vehicle than the wispy i."

Doing a full out of pocket cost analysis, the iMiev ended up being $8745 cheaper than the LEAF, which in my book was not a drawback. The range is only an EPA rated 11 miles less and the iMiev is surprisingly roomy inside with a better use of the rear storage with the seats down than the LEAF. Also, though the "wispy" i might not feel like the heavy feeling LEAF, it is a lot is more grounded than many high sitting SUVs ICEs.

Ah, ok, I feel better now.

Anyway, back to the Outlander ... by the time end of 2013 rolls around, the CMax Energi might have sold 10,000. Seems like they're a bit late to the game - even if it might be a better PHEV.

· Modern Marvel Fan (not verified) · 2 years ago

First to market will help. However, it has to be a good one.

If it can truly make a huge MPG gain and a 4WD/AWD feature, then it will have the market to itself...

· · 2 years ago

I think I've hyperlinked this one more than a few times here, but I'll do it again. Mitsubishi has a little 2-door sports car concept, called the iMiev Sport Air, that is particularly nice . . .

http://www.motorauthority.com/news/1031836_mitsubishi-takes-the-covers-o...

This is a whole different sort of thing than the Tesla Roadster, which is actually a Grand Touring 2-seater (ie: big, long ranged and priced accordingly) while the Sport Air really is built in the tradition of a small sports car, like an update of an MG or Austin-Healey.

We've also now got an assortment of compact/subcompact 4-door EVs and the market is beginning to feel saturated there. And now, everyone (including Mitsubishi, apparently) is set to launch big electric SUVs over here. One can only hope the cup holders will accommodate 52 oz. Big Gulps and Slurpees for all passengers. On the upside, Brian, maybe we'll get a PHEV minivan out of that pack.

But how about a little 2-seater pure EV runabout? The Fiat 500e comes close and, maybe even the squat Smart ED could sort of qualify. But that Sport Air really looks the part.

Dan: I'll be getting a ride in an i this weekend and, possibly, a little time behind the wheel.

· · 2 years ago

Too bad the RAV4EV isn't being sold nationwide. I wonder who makes their Tesla-Based gearboxes these days, Still Borg-Warner? Interestingly, the ratio in both the Model S Tesla and the Toyota Rav4Ev are both 9.73:1. Power is less than 1/2 the model S however..

Still, the only EV maker with REALLY decent range is still Tesla.

· Rob Sanders (not verified) · 2 years ago

I understand it will be the first electric car that will allow a towbar.... Very useful

· Modern Marvel Fan (not verified) · 2 years ago

"Still, the only EV maker with REALLY decent range is still Tesla."

Still the only EV maker with REALLY decent range still sell porduct that cost over $80k and NOT making a profit.

Don't get me wrong, I love Tesla. But it doesn't make money or have a "realistic" product for "average" household.

I am saving money for the so called $35k Tesla, but I don't keep my hope up.

Prove me wrong, please!!!!

· Joule_Thief (not verified) · 2 years ago

Brad, any word on the battery TMS?

If this has active TMS (preferably liquid medium) and is under $50k before incentives they've got a buyer.

· · 2 years ago

@Modern Marvel Fan.

".....Still the only EV maker with REALLY decent range still sell porduct that cost over $80k and NOT making a profit......"

"...Prove me wrong, please!!!!...."
.

Man, they've got you fooled.

They made a profit on my $109K Roadster (although not as much on me as other owners since I'm one of the VERY RARE owners with ZERO options). I didn't even buy their charger solutions, other than to buy a conversion plug which I got a 30% tax credit on, since the adapter is part of my "home charging infrastructure", i.e. its not part of the car itself since I can use it to charge another different car. Slightly Makes up for the other confiscatory taxes I paid that year.

I'm obviously not privy to current accounting there, but I understand the Model S is to have an average 25 % markup. I looked at the chassis at the Toronto Store. That thing is so simple the 'stripped' models should be coming out of the factory like HOT CAKES. And since they are so simple I can't believe they're not making 25% on every one. My volt (MSRP $43,000) is unbelievably intricate, complicated and convoluted by comparison.

And you're wrong on the $80 k part too, since minus options, the regular model S's are all cheaper.

Anything else you'd like to be proved wrong on? You can thank me later.

· · 2 years ago

@Bill "They made a profit ..."

He is talking about the company. Apparently all that margin on a car is not enough to cover their R&D and other costs.

· Modern Marvel Fan (not verified) · 2 years ago

@Bill,

Telsa should make money on per car basis, just like the Volt. But if you include things such as initial R&D, tooling, factory investment, loan payment...etc. It doesn't make profit. That can be easily "verified" by their financial report. I certainly hope Tesla makes profit on per car basis excluding investment. If it doesn't, it will never survive. Volt has the same issue. It makes money on per car basis but if you include the "famous" initial $1.2Billion investment, it will take a long time (~80,000) units sales for GM just to break even (not including things such as interest on the initial investment or any additional cost associated with the current discounting).

I hope I am wrong. The sooner the better b/c I hope both Telsa survives to become a major automaker and GM keep the Volt program going...

· Modern Marvel Fan (not verified) · 2 years ago

@Bill,

Telsa should make money on per car basis, just like the Volt. But if you include things such as initial R&D, tooling, factory investment, loan payment...etc. It doesn't make profit. That can be easily "verified" by their financial report. I certainly hope Tesla makes profit on per car basis excluding investment. If it doesn't, it will never survive. Volt has the same issue. It makes money on per car basis but if you include the "famous" initial $1.2Billion investment, it will take a long time (~80,000) units sales for GM just to break even (not including things such as interest on the initial investment or any additional cost associated with the current discounting).

I hope I am wrong. The sooner the better b/c I hope both Telsa survives to become a major automaker and GM keep the Volt program going...

· · 2 years ago

Well, they should make money what with all the Federal Gov't money they've been getting.

They also got the Nummi plant for 10 - 15 cents on the dollar. Prroduction is supposedly finally increasing. From a distance it looks like s aure thing, but I'm sure the devil is in the details. But the following facts remain..

1). The car is elegantly simple (the stripped models).
2). They got the factory at fire sale prices.
3). All kinds of $Grants.
4). Prices of vehicles at 100% full retail pricing.

So, you'd think the wildly simple thing would be to buy Tesla Stock. But then they lose $1 per share. We'll See.

· Don Barbieri (not verified) · 2 years ago

We live in the mountain & lake area of North Idaho & sure wish the Mitsubishi plug in hybrid 4WD would deliver in 2013...why the US delay?

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