The next generation Mitsubishi Triton ute – due two to three years from now – will have the option of hybrid power for the first time.
However, the company is yet to decide if it will be a plug-in hybrid, and whether it will pair its electric tech with a petrol or diesel engine – or both.
Mitsubishi is evaluating whether the hybrid version will be ready at the start of production for the new Mitsubishi Triton or added later.
The global chief operating officer of Mitsubishi Motors, Ashwani Gupta, also confirmed in a briefing with Australian media this week that Mitsubishi is taking the lead on the ute program jointly developed with Nissan.
“We started having the best practice exchange with Nissan on the current vehicles and we did a lot of benchmarking of each other,” said Mr Gupta.
“For the next pick-up obviously we are working together (but) we have only one manufacturing (plant) which is Thailand, so naturally we are taking the lead to develop the next generation of pick-up.”
He said the new Mitsubishi Triton will go on sale first and the next generation Nissan Navara will follow.
“The next question comes ‘How and when Nissan and Renault will get on the boat?’. We will have to wait, but as of today we are taking the lead,” said Mr Gupta.
He said both brands would use each other’s engines, depending on emissions requirements in various countries.
“We try to use each other’s strength in terms of powertrain … for sure we will use each other’s powertrain to maximise synergies,” he said.
However, Mitsubishi is also investigating hybrid and plug-in hybrid (PHEV) power for the next Triton.
“Now we are working on how we are going to apply PHEV technology across our line-up,” said Mr Gupta. “On the pick-up, let me say the Triton and Pajero Sport obviously we believe that it will need electrification.
“The next Triton should be technical enough to have electrification. One of the core strengths of Mitsubishi is to have electrification and (internal combustion engines) in the same car.
“We don’t have the policy to develop a dedicated electrified car. We have the technology and the knowhow to use the same platform to be adaptable to (internal combustion engines) and adaptable to electrification.”
Mr Gupta said Mitsubishi is now studying the “specific requirements of the next Triton, which is towing capacity and payload, whether our existing PHEV technology will fulfil these specific requirements.”
When asked if the next Triton would be a petrol or diesel hybrid and have the option of plug-in power to give it a modest electric-only driving range, Mr Gupta said: “We are working on two or three options to come up with the right electrification strategy.”
He added: “I’m pretty sure one day Australia will also pick up on electrification and I think we want to be ready for any opportunity which we have. That’s the reason we launched Outlander PHEV, just to create awareness in the market. We didn’t launch it as a business strategy, we launched it as an awareness strategy.”
Buyers holding out for a turbo diesel V6 Triton may be left waiting, however. While Mr Gupta said a TDV6 was available thanks to the joint venture between Mitsubishi, Nissan and Renault, there were no plans to add such a variant.
Meanwhile, the revelation that the next Mitsubishi Triton will have the option of hybrid power follows Toyota's announcement that the HiLux will have the option of hybrid by 2025, though the company ruled out a pure electric HiLux.