Paris 2012: Mitsubishi Outlander
(Thursday 27 September 2012)
Mitsubishi is demonstrating its ideas on how a plug-in hybrid should be with the Outlander PHEV on display in Paris. This is all a bit complicated, so pay attention and take notes if necessary.
The Outlander PHEV is fulsomely supplied with power sources. Up front there's a two-litre petrol engine, an electric motor and a generator, with a second electric motor driving the rear axle. In between, under the floor of the passenger compartment (partly for space reasons and partly to keep the centre of gravity nice and low) lies the battery pack.
The way these devices behave depends on which of the three modes the car is operating in. The first is called Pure EV (for Electric Vehicle) and in this one both motors drive the car, taking their energy from the battery pack, while the engine does nothing. In Pure EV, the Outlander has a top speed of over 75mph, or a range of around 35 miles, but obviously not both at the same time.
If the battery runs low on juice, or if rapid acceleration is suddenly required, the Outlander switches from that mode into one called Series Hybrid. Here the generator comes into play, feeding the battery pack and the motors as necessary. Still nothing from the engine at this point.
The engine contributes only when the Outlander is in Parallel Hybrid mode. In fact, it's the main power source, with the generator and motors providing extra performance without burning any fossil fuel.
Since the engine isn't involved for much of the time, the Outlander has a remarkable CO2 rating, based on the EU test cycle, of 49g/km, along with a theoretical range of around 550 miles. With all guns blazing, its top speed is 106mph, which might not seem like much, but how often do you drive faster than that? Also, as you've probably worked out already, it's always operating in four-wheel drive.
This isn't just a concept. The Outlander PHEV will go on sale, first in Japan and later in Europe, during 2013.