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Mitsubishi will offer a trio of all-new or new-generation crossover SUVs before 2020, comprising a shrunken next ASX, a larger next Outlander and a brand new model sandwiched in between. Each will come in electric or plug-in hybrid guise as an option.

The Japanese company recently outlined its SUV plans to its US dealer network, and they add clarity to what we first reported after discussing the plan with senior management at the Tokyo motor show last October.

We spoke this week in New York with Mitsubishi Motors North America executive vice-president Don Swearingen, at that market’s premiere of the 2017 Outlander PHEV. The outspoken executive filled in many of the blanks for the company’s product future.

“I’ll tell you our strategy we’re going with, we just announced it to dealers two weeks ago,” he said.

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“Mitsubishi will take [2019] Outlander up in width and length. The Outlander Sport (ASX), we’re taking that down a bit in size [the next-generation car is due as soon as 2017]… in the middle will be a new CUV.”

This latter new mid-sized CUV — Mitsubishi parlance for SUV —  is the car we reported on in Tokyo. As we know, this vehicle will be pitched as a little more premium and sporty than anything in Mitsubishi’s current stable, and is expected to be based on the next Outlander platform.

It will appear in 2018 and will be inspired stylistically by the (almost Mazda CX-5 sized) Mitsubishi XR-PHEV II concept car pictured above.

The new structure means the 2017/18 ASX will shrink to better rival the small Mazda CX-3 and Nissan Juke, and will take after (albeit loosely) the recent eX concept car pictured below. 

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Finally, the next Outlander proper will grow, and could even edge close to current larger SUVs such as the Hyundai Santa Fe. The current version is one of few seven-seaters in its class, so that could be seen as a logical step.

Add to this the fact that there will be no replacement for the full-size seven-seat Pajero atop the range, with that car being phased out in place of the ute-based Pajero Sport.

“We are clearly seeing consumers go away from sedans into CUVs, and we feel we need three vehicles in that segment,” Swearingen said.

“Our plan with those three is to have either fully EV or PHEV of each of those vehicles,” he added.

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This means each will offer next-generation battery technologies honed by Mitsubishi in racing series such as its Pikes Peak EV MiEV Evolution.

Mitsubishi’s recent concepts have previewed both PHEV and full EV drivetrains. The XR-PHEV used a front-wheel-drive plug-in hybrid drivetrain comprised of a petrol engine, a 120kW electric motor and a power drive unit.

That drivetrain was capable of running in all electric, parallel hybrid and series hybrid modes. In regular use, the system preferences being in all electric mode or using the petrol engine as a generator to recharge the car’s 12kWh battery pack.

The eX concept was (at least theoretically) driven by a pair of electric motors, one at each end, delivering 70kW apiece for a combined output of 140kW.

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The system was referred to as a Twin Motor 4WD, combining a version of Mitsubishi’s Super All-Wheel Control (S-AWC) dynamics control system with Active Yaw Control, the latter varying torque split between the rear wheels.

Interestingly, Swearingen talked up the performance potential of the electrified drivetrains (think of how fast Teslas are), and said “you will most likely see a performance version of a CUV in the future”.

He didn’t comment on whether they might wear the Evo badge though… We’ll bring you more on the company’s future performance car plans and thoughts soon.




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