Mitsubishi's Global Small Concept Designed "From Ground Up" to Support Electric Drivetrain
The name of Mitsubishi's new "Global Small" concept car, unveiled at the 2011 Geneva Motor Show, does very little to indicate just how important the vehicle is for them—but don't let it fool you.
It's the first platform designed by the company to be sold anywhere in the world—developed, undeveloped, first, third, industrialized, computerized, westernized—you name it, the Global Small will be sold everywhere Mitsubishi has a presence. And not only is it designed to have a global appeal, it's designed to be global in its diversity too.
When the car reaches production in 2012, it will be sold with a 1.2-liter fuel efficient engine, a stop-start system and a continuously variable transmission. But in a conversation with PluginCars.com, Moe Durand, Mitsubishi's North American Product PR Manager, told us that although no plans have been yet set in stone, the Global Small was "designed from the ground up to support an electric platform."
Even though no plans have yet been announced for the production of an all-electric version of the car, all it takes is to connect the dots. Earlier this year Mitsubishi unveiled plans for a dramatic strategic shift to try and turn the company's sales slump around by shifting major resources to electric drivetrain research and development. As part of the plan, the company also announced it would also introduce six new electric or plug-in hybrid vehicles by 2015.
Durand also indicated that the Global Small would have an extended wheelbase version available in markets where tiny cars don't sell as well—such as America. The concept form of the Global Small shown in Geneva is even smaller than the Ford Fiesta, and the longer wheelbase would put it in the same market category as the Fiesta.
Will the longer wheelbase Global Small be sold in the U.S. with an electric drivetrain? As that most-revered of all prognostication tools—the Magic 8-Ball—might say, "All signs point to yes."
Currently Mitsubishi only has plans to produce the Global Small in a new Thailand plant starting in 2012. As Durand indicated, this was to be able to meet aggressive cost targets for the car. Although Mitsubishi has been looking at ways to increase production at its Normal, Illinois plant again—and turn the community into electric car central—the Global Small will likely not be produced there. However, Durand did indicate that Normal may be the source of some "other things." Given that our conversation was about electric cars, this could indicate the Normal plant may soon be popping out some kind of electric car.
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