Mitusbishi's i electric car has been getting most of the automaker's attention recently, as a purported rival to Nissan's Leaf. But the company's hybrid and plug-in vehicle aspirations go far further than just the egg-shaped commuter. The company's first production model of a plug-in hybrid will take a decidedly more conventional form.
As we've previously reported, the Mitsubishi i is just the beginning of Mitsu's alternative powertrain plans. Coming by the spring of 2013 will be the first plug-in hybrid vehicle in the Mitsubishi stable, based on the automaker's PX-MiEV concept it debuted at the 2009 Tokyo auto show.
Contrary to recent published reports, Mitsubishi officials tell us the new plug-in hybrid will not be based on the Outlander Sport but rather the all-new Outlander as previewed by the PX-MiEV, although expect the production model to differ significantly from the concept pictured. The new car is part of Mitsubishi's plan to roll out multiple alternative powertrain vehicles by 2015, including possibly the next Mitsubishi Evolution.
The PX-MiEV parallel plug-in hybrid concept featured a 114-hp 1.6L four-cylinder engine with 92 lb-ft of torque 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, according to Mitsubishi.
At the time, Mitsubishi said the PX-MiEV could be charged from a standard 110-volt wall socket, a 200-volt socket or a special high-voltage quick-charger, and could 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.
We're betting we'll see more of the new vehicle at this year's 2011 Tokyo auto show in early December.