While series hybrids, which use an electric motor to boost the output of a gasoline engine, are the most common form of hybrid vehicle at the moment, Mitsubishi is skipping ahead to what appears to be the next step: parallel hybrids.
In Mitsubishi’s PX-MiEV concept, a 114-hp 1.6L four-cylinder engine with 92 lb-ft of torque is augmented by two electric motors which do most of the work. In most cases, the electric motor mounted on the front axle drives the front wheels, but when more power is needed, the gasoline engine kicks on to help. Under heavy loads, heavy acceleration or emergency maneuvers, another electric motor at the rear axle also kicks in to provide power and help stabilize the vehicle. When the gasoline engine isn’t needed, it either switches off or acts as a generator to recharge the battery or power the electric motors, whichever is most efficient at the moment. Each electric motor generates 60 hp and 148 lb-ft of torque and all together, Mitsubishi says the PX-MiEV can achieve 118 mpg.
In addition to determining the most efficient way to propel the PX-MiEV in any given circumstance, the computer can also use the electric motors to dole out torque both front-to-rear and side-to-side for maximum stability and traction. Cameras mounted around the vehicle, meanwhile, give the driver a birds-eye view for navigating in tight spaces.
Inside, the PX-MiEV features a futuristic design replete with touchscreen panels for all non-driving related controls. The minimalist interior comes with a horseshoe-shaped steering wheel stuffed with buttons to activate as many vehicle systems (like navigation and stereo) without the driver taking his or her hands off of the wheel. Touchscreens in front and rear take up as little passenger space as possible while the heated and cooled seats feature a material that traps and destroys odors and allergens. Reflective paint and window coatings keep interior temperatures down to reduce energy usage.
The PX-MiEV can be charged from either a standard 110-volt wall socket, a 200-volt socket or a special high-voltage quick-charger, though Mitsubishi hasn’t specified charging times. The vehicle can also act as a giant battery and power a household appliance to cut home energy costs or act as a generator to provide electricity during an outage.