Mitsubishi Australia delayed its introduction of the plug-in hybrid SUV due to battery supply constraints for the European and Japanese markets (4,000 units maximum capacity per month). Production was also halted between March and August following the discovery of a fault that caused one of the car's lithium-ion battery packs to melt and another to catch fire.
The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV will become the first plug-in hybrid SUV on sale in Australia. It will be capable of driving 60km in pure-electric mode and then use its 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine as an electric generator to create enough charge to extend the range to more than 800km.
Mitsubishi Australia executive director of marketing Tony Principe told CarAdvice the company believes it can sell 100 Outlander PHEVs per month in Australia, though is yet to finalise pricing and specifications of the range.
The Outlander PHEV is also set to get the 2014 model year updates expected for the regular Outlander variants from early next year, including larger wheels and higher equipment levels to help boost the new-generation SUV's sales, which have lagged behind those of its successor to date.
The Outlander PHEV will be powered by two 60kW electric motors at the front and rear and an
87kW 2.0-litre petrol engine that can act as a generator in 'Series' mode or actually drive the wheels in 'Parallel' mode at higher highway speeds.
It’s likely the vehicle will remain in pure 'EV' mode if the battery is charged (via an electric plug) for the majority of buyers that travel less than 60km a day, but Series mode allows its petrol engine to kick in and help out if battery levels drop below a predetermined level,
allowing owners to overcome the “range anxiety” experienced by owners of the Mitsubishi i-MiEV and other pure-electric vehicles.
If speeds exceed 120km/h or if maximum power is required, the petrol engine and electric motors work together to produce maximum power and torque.
In Series hybrid mode, the fuel economy is rated at 5.3 litres per 100km, while in EV mode the price of the first 60km is essentially dependent on the price of electricity (if charged via a wall socket).
With a full tank of fuel and fully charged batteries, the Outlander PHEV gets almost 900km to a tank and battery-charge cycle.
The Outlander PHEV is distinguished from the regular models by its 30mm-lower ride height and 'PHEV' badges. The car's weight distribution
(55:45 front to rear) is more rear-biased than the standard car, while the company claims the PHEV is actually faster for in-gear acceleration than the larger-capacity six-cylinder model.
Prices are expected to start at around $50,000 for the entry-level variant and will likely approach $60,000 for the top-spec models.