Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV

Mitsubishi's Outlander PHEV is the worlds first plug-in hybrid SUV

Mitsubishi has revealed details of its Outlander PHEV ahead of its debut at the Paris Auto Show, making it the first plug-in hybrid SUV offering the advantages of driving electric, coupled with the range of a gasoline vehicle, and the performance of a 4 wheel drive SUV.

In a preview of the 2012 Paris Auto Show, Mitsubishi unveiled some details of the Outlander PHEV. The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, the worlds first plug-in hybrid SUV, is based on the new Outlander platform, and has a very flexible plug-in hybrid-electric drive train offering 30 miles or so of all electric driving.

While several companies have made hybrid SUV's, the Outlander PHEV will be the first of these to support plugging in to recharge the battery pack. It offers the best of three worlds, the cleanliness of an electric drive train, the cruising range of gasoline powered vehicles, and the on- and off-road performance of an SUV.

The Outlander PHEV targets mid-size category and above, a segment where total cruising range is very important. Small electric cars like Mitsubishi's i-MiEV can be thought of as a "city car" where the limited driving range is not a hindrance. However, SUV's routinely take long trips or haul prodigious amounts of people or cargo, and a limited driving range would clearly be a hindrance. While Tesla Motors plans to introduce an all electric SUV with a 300ish mile driving range, the price for the Outlander PHEV should be far more affordable than Tesla's Model X.

While the electric drive train is derived from that in the Mitsubishi i-MiEV, it couples that system with the very latest ICE environmental technologies, including Mitsubishi's MIVEC (Mitsubishi Innovative Valve timing Electronic Control system) variable valve timing system.

The Outlander PHEV includes a Twin Motor 4WD system, comprising a front- and rear- electric motor to drive the front- and rear- wheels. This system offers decreased friction loss, better response and finer control than conventional mechanical systems. The Twin Motor 4WD system is integrated with Mitsubishi's S-AWC (Super All Wheel Control) integrated vehicle dynamics control system, delivering extra stability and all-terrain performance. Additionally the electric motors create an excellent off-the-line acceleration experience.

The Outlander PHEV automatically selects among three driving modes depending on driving conditions and the battery pack state of charge: EV Drive Mode All-electric driving using energy stored in the battery pack to drive the electric motors in the front and rear of the SUV. Series Hybrid Mode The gasoline engine operates as a generator supplying electricity to the electric motors. The Outlander PHEV switches to this mode either when the battery pack state of charge falls low enough, or when additional power is required. Parallel Hybrid Mode The gasoline engine provides most of the motive power with the electric motors providing an extra boost as necessary.

It carries a 12 kilowatt-hour battery pack which Mitsubishi says will be certified for a 55 km (JC08 mode) electric driving range. Fuel efficiency is 61 km/liter, the PHEV offers a total cruising range of 880 kilometers. All these numbers are based on Japans JC08 mode, and it's well understood that Japans certifications result in much higher range and efficiency numbers than US EPA certifications.

Going by the specs Mitsubishi released today, the electric driving range could be 20-30 miles. That's enough driving range for accomplishing a large portion of daily around-town driving on electric power, leaving the gasoline engine for longer trips.