Forty-nine years after Mitsubishi produced Japan's first series mass production car in 1917, it realized that fossil-based fuel was a finite entity, in addition to the issues it created, including urban pollution. Consequently, the automaker began looking for more sustainable forms of energy, and started to conduct research and development in the mass production of electric vehicles (EV).
Mitsubishi Motors Corporation (MMC) signed an agreement with Tokyo Electric Power Company to build and test a prototype EV using improvements in battery technology. It also worked with Mitsubishi Electric to develop a future city car and special service vehicle that would alleviate urban pollution, amongst other solutions.
In May 1971, MMC as it was eventually known, delivered ten E12-type EVs (Minica Van) to Tokyo Electric Power Company. It was based on the standard Minivan, powered by lead accumulator batteries, and capable of 80 km/h. It continued to deliver EVs based on the Minica Van, Minicab Van, Minicab Truck and Delica Van to power companies. This laid the foundations for the automaker's foray and eventual leadership in EV.
Almost four decades of research, development and refinement later, MMC launched the world's first mass production EV, the Mitsubishi i-MiEV battery EV. The minicar based electric car went on to win the 'Most Advanced Technology' award at the 2009-2010 Car of the Year Japan, amongst its many eventual accolades.
At this time, an even more ambitious project was ongoing. It married MMC's EV technologies with its experience, expertise and legacy in building the world's leading off-road vehicles and SUVs, the consequences of which stamped MMCs leadership in EVs.
Secretly at its R&D facility in Okazaki, near Nagoya, a large plug-in hybrid electric 4WD SUV was taking shape. With insights from Mitsubishi i-MiEV technology, including the highly sophisticated MMC-developed 'MiEV OS' operating system, it met the world for the first time in the 2009 Tokyo Motor Show, in the form of the Mitsubishi Concept PX-MiEV. The Mitsubishi Concept PX-MiEV II followed. Meanwhile Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV) mules continued to pound through hundreds of thousands of test kilometers in the guise of the company's outgoing second-generation Mitsubishi Outlander SUV.
Finally, at the 2012 Paris Motor Show, the secret was revealed – the world premiere of the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV. It was the world's first mass production SUV PHEV with twin-motor technology. What set the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV apart from other plug-in hybrid solutions was its use of an electric vehicle as the basic architecture (drive-by-wire and no gearbox) instead of merely bolting on batteries and motors to an existing ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) vehicle.
Also central to the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV is MMCs' signature technology – Super-All Wheel Control (S-AWC). S-AWC evolved from MMCs' successful and award-winning involvement in motorsports, and forms the cornerstone of the brand's more than 80 years of all-wheel-drive heritage– from the 1936 Mitsubishi PX33 to the 1982 Mitsubishi Pajero and its 12 wins on the world rallying stage.
S-AWC manages driving and braking forces of each of the four wheels, through the regulation of torque split between the front and rear as well as between left and right. In a vehicle like the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV that does not have a conventional propeller shaft, two motors are used – one for the front, one for the rear, to enable the application of S-AWC.
Integrating SUV, 4WD and EV technologies, the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV offers the best all-round solution. In short city drives, it is a battery EV while for longer distances, and the engine works as a generator and charges the batteries, reducing range anxiety prevalent in pure battery EVs. In real-life application, this means drivers can focus on more important things in life than to focus on looking for charging points every time they are on the road. The final touch is the SUV platform, providing utilitarian, practical and capable motoring that is also environmental-friendly.
The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV comes with three driving modes – 'EV' mode that relies only on the motors utilizing power from the battery, 'Series Hybrid' that uses the motors while the engine works as a generator, and 'Parallel Hybrid' mode whereby drive is provided by the engine and assisted by motors. Combined, the entire drive technology provides seamless acceleration, quietness and superior ride quality.
Two types of charging are available – normal charging with 230V 10A takes 5.5 hours for a full charge while Quick charging (CHAdeMO) takes 25 minutes up to 80% capacity (*). Quick-charging function is unique to the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV. (*) The contents of the description is based on European spec.
In terms of reliability, long-distance endurance tests, including tests on the endurance and durability of the batteries and motors, were conducted in hot summer as well as cold and snowy winter conditions. PHEV components remained in good working condition even after 300,000 kilometers of test distance.
The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV is so successful. It has been the world's best-selling plug-in hybrid vehicle as of December 2018 and MMC announced that more than 200,000 units have been sold worldwide (as of March 2019) since its launch in 2013. In fact, it is also Europe's best-selling plug-in hybrid for four consecutive years since 2015.
To keep it up-to-date, MMC launched the new Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV at the 2018 Geneva International Motor Show. The latest version includes improved front bumper, grille, headlamps, rear bumper, and alloy wheel design and a finer interior. The PHEV system has also been reengineered with a 2.4-liter engine (Atkinson cycle), increased generator and rear motor output, increased battery capacity and further evolution of the Twin-Motor S-AWC 4WD system. There is also an addition of two new driving modes 'Sport' and 'Snow'. Front-rear torque split and individual control of front and rear motor response have also been optimized.
Clearly, the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV is more than just a plug-in hybrid solution for today. In escalating global debates about the place of automobiles in society, MMCs' solution represents a move beyond the frontier, for those who want to embrace leading-edge changes. In addition to being a comprehensive environmental solution on the move, the SUV also presents an environmental solution while parked. Featuring charge and discharge functions, it allows the vehicle to provide power to homes (V2H) or even the grid (V2G). By discharging electricity, it is possible to contribute to the reduction of peak power consumption and reduce energy costs in the home. At the 2019 Geneva International Motor Show, MMC presented the DENDO DRIVE HOUSE, an energy solution package that utilizes V2X technology.
Clearly, Mitsubishi Motors' electrification strategy has done more than empower drivers to explore and venture further on electric power. The automaker's leadership in this area has brought electrification full circle – from extending the range further from home to bringing home the freedom of self-sustainable power solution and providing the same for the rest of the community.
About Mitsubishi Motors Thailand (MMTh)
Mitsubishi Motors (Thailand) Co., Ltd., the largest plant in the MMC group and an export hub to more than 120 countries, is one of Thailand's leading automotive manufacturers committed to produce and sell a range of vehicles that are eco-friendly, high in quality, performance, safety, comfort, technology and customer satisfaction. In 2018 MMTh celebrated a total production of five million units, and officially opened Education Academy in Pathum Thani. MMTh's current range of vehicles includes the Mitsubishi Triton, Mitsubishi Pajero Sport, Mitsubishi Attrage, Mitsubishi Mirage, and Mitsubishi XPANDER. To ensure the highest quality, MMTh uses its proving ground in Sriracha, Chonburi to assess products from design and prototype stages to pre-production and commercialization. This ensures customers take delivery of vehicles that are second-to-none in all aspects of quality.
Please contact Mitsubishi dealers nationwide for more information and test driving, or contact Mitsubishi Call Center Tel. 02-079-9500 every day at 8:30 – 17:00 hrs.
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