Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV SUV goes plug-in hybrid

Laying claim to the world’s first plug-in hybrid sports utility vehicle, Mitsubishi Motors has unveiled its brand new Outlander PHEV ahead of the 2012 Paris Motor Show.

It will first roll out in Japan – starting next year. The Outlander PHEV, according to Mitsubishi, uses the company’s own plug-in hybrid system derived from other green cars in its fleet, such as the i-MiEV.

The vehicle will be targeted towards the mid-size SUV category and can make use of power from charging at home, at work or during regenerative braking.

Range of the vehicle when driving in electric vehicle only mode reportedly will be around 30 miles, according to Japanese driving certifications. The total combined driving range of the Outlander PHEV, again according to the same standards, is at least 540 miles. Both these numbers will likely change when the vehicle hits American shores some time after its Japanese debut.

In addition to the EV only driving mode, the hybrid SUV also can switch automatically between series and parallel hybrid modes for providing what Mitsubishi says is “comfortable driving while providing superior fuel efficiency.”

All of these green car modes are supported by a high-capacity 12 kWh lithium-ion drive battery that includes its own manual switch mode to make use of the  2.0-liter 4-cyl. MIVEC gas engine as a generator, charging the drive battery whether the vehicle is stationary or on the move.

Being that this is a SUV, the Outlander PHEV will use a twin motor 4WD system comprising independent 60 kW electric motors to drive the front and rear wheels. 

It will not have a propeller shaft or other mechanical components seen in conventional mechanical systems, according to Mitsubishi, and the system will integrate with the vehicle’s dynamics control system “to deliver high levels of stability and all-terrain performance and ensure the vehicle behaves just as the driver intends it to.”

* Nino Marchetti, EarthTechling