Australian market success more modest, focus remains on fleets for now
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Mitsubishi Motors has just sold its 100,000th Outlander PHEV plug-in hybrid in Europe, a single market packed with countries that offer all manner of financial incentives to prospective green-car buyers.

In fact, about 10 per cent of the company's total volume across Europe is the Outlander PHEV, and it's the best-selling vehicle of its type (from an admittedly small field) in markets such as the UK, Norway and Spain.

“Amid heated debates in Europe about the future of diesel and the place of the automobile in society, the achievement of this milestone vindicates Mitsubishi Motors’ ambition to offer new propositions for those who wish to embrace change,” the company said.

A few lines to read between there…

It’s not quite the same success story here in Australia, where the PHEV costs between $50,490 and $55,490 before on-road costs. The Mitsubishi does, however, reign as our top-selling PHEV since 2014, with about 350 finding homes in 2017 alone.

Mitsubishi Australia CEO, John Signoriello, told CarAdvice the updated model (released last year) is subject to a different strategy to the pre-facelift version sold between 2014 and 2016.

“We’re basically encouraging our network [to stock one], you’ll find one in every metro and provincial dealer as a demo, and then we sell it,” he said.

"You won't find us with hundreds of cars in stock, as per conventional product. We are conscious that it’s predominantly more of a fleet-type vehicle and we are working that space."

“... There’s no underlying demand for this sort of vehicle as there is for diesel or petrol,” he added, citing lack of infrastructure. That said, the company knows this is changing and is keeping an eye out for when the worm turns.

For those not across the PHEV, under the regular Outlander body sit two 60kW electric motors, one on each axle, that can provide impetus independently and almost instantaneously in lieu of any locking differentials.

These are fed by a protected 12kWh/300V lithium-ion battery array in the floor and a 89kW/190Nm 2.0-litre petrol engine paired with a generator and single-speed gearbox – one ratio only is needed, as the engine works independently at high speeds.

The net result is a genuine electric range of about 50km and batteries that can be recharged by the engine, by brake energy regeneration, or by plugging into a power point (five hours) or a fast charger (about 25 minutes to 80 per cent).

Naturally, the car still runs even with flat batteries: either through the petrol engine generating charge to the array which in turn spins the wheels (series hybrid mode), or by the engine directly powering the front wheels itself under greater loads (parallel hybrid mode) – the latter while leveraging any surplus power to charge the cells.

Mitsubishi’s PHEV staple also offers a fairly interesting twin-motor AWD system called Super-All Wheel Control (S-AWC), incorporating active yaw control driven by each axle motor, plus individual-wheel brake torque vectoring.

In 2014, one Swiss driver, Felix Egolf (a rather coincidental name), managed to cover 700km in an Outlander PHEV, including 133km on highways, while using only 40.55 liters of petrol.

MMC also says that a shepherd in Wales used the car to check on his flock as they were lambing - because it was so quiet that it didn’t upset the pregnant ewes.

MMC is also plotting to make electrified versions of all its core models inside the next few years, using money from its majority shareholder Nissan, and its Alliance partner Renault.


Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV cumulative sales figures in Europe:

1The United Kingdom

34,108

2The Netherlands

25,399

3Norway

13,429

4Sweden

9,957

5Germany

6,743

6France

2,580

7Spain

1,941

8Switzerland

1,321

9Portugal

795

10Belgium

725

Grand Total: 100,097 units (Oct. 2013 to Dec. 2017)