PHEV Is Fine: Mitsubishi Says It Knows What Green Buyers Want

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
phev is fine mitsubishi says it knows what green buyers want

While the brand name inspires more than a few snorts of derision and jokes in North America, Mitsubishi, now backed by the mighty Renault-Nissan Alliance, carries greater clout overseas. The automaker’s Outlander PHEV outsells all other plug-in hybrids in the UK, and global sales of the brand’s vehicles are on the upswing.

Being a part of the alliance means Mitsu will soon have its hands on new architecture, but the brand claims it isn’t about to go all snobby with a line of dedicated electric car models. Sure, there’ll be EVs in the future, but they won’t be standalone models. The automaker claims the technology it’s most known for — plug-in hybrid powertrains — remains the best bet for most consumers, and that’s why it plans to focus mainly on PHEV.

Also, you really won’t need an EV if you buy the next-generation Outlander PHEV, claims Mitsubishi strategy boss Vincent Cobee.

Speaking to Autocar, Cobee said improvements in store for the second-generation Outlander PHEV will render the vehicle’s internal combustion engine mostly irrelevant. Right now, U.S. buyers (who really had to wait before getting their hands on the model) can expect 22 miles of gas-free driving before the ICE kicks in. In Europe, a different testing cycle puts the range at 31 miles.

“Battery EVs have a limitation in terms of range at the moment, and in some countries, that might not be the answer,” Cobee said, adding that Mitsu plans to outfit other models with the Outlander PHEV’s green tech. The executive seems to subscribe to the notion that it’s better having many people driving a plug-in hybrid than a handful of people driving an EV. Even better is building long-range PHEVs that still offers consumers the option of gassing up.

“The Outlander PHEV currently has an electric-only range of 31 miles, and we’ll extend that with the next-generation model: the aim is 80-100km [50-62 miles], which will be enough for most people to do the bulk of their journeys purely on electric power and live a largely EV lifestyle, but still be able to do longer trips when needed,” Cobee said, adding that Mitsubishi’s future lineup will contain fully electric vehicles, as well as hybrids and PHEVs.

No details were given as to which conventional models might get an EV makeover.

In the U.S., where the Outlander PHEV does battle with a range of (usually) smaller vehicles, brand-wide sales rose 8.4 percent, year over year, last month, with year-to-date volume up 17.1 percent. By the end of October, Mitsubishi sales had already created the six-figure mark — a hurdle the brand failed to clear from 2008 to 2016.

[Image: Mitsubishi Motors]

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  • Wheatridger Wheatridger on Nov 09, 2018

    PHEVs are the best of both worlds. You have an electric car for short runs around town, and you also have unlimited highway driving range on gas. Thirty miles of EV doesn't sound like much, but if you did that every day, that's almost 11,000 miles per year. Somehow, my PHEV C-Max gets almost twice the MPG of my hybrid C-Max- and I drive it over 100 miles per day several times per week. For versatility and cost-effectiveness, it's the way to go. I'll settle for my 65 MPG, plus 80 cents of shore power per day. Even if you offered a wonder car capable of twice that efficiency, you're chasing diminishing returns. So I salute Mitsubishi's choice.

    • See 4 previous
    • HotPotato HotPotato on Nov 13, 2018

      BTW Wheatridger, I don't mean to diss your C-Max Energi!! I had a C-Max and loved it; my point was just that I would have loved it more with a Voltec powertrain.

  • Markogts Markogts on Nov 10, 2018

    One suggestion to Mitsubishi: keep the DC charging port and put a 32A/7kW charger. Maybe switch to CCS for Europe?

  • Funky D I despise Google for a whole host of reasons. So why on earth would I willing spend a large amount of $ on a car that will force Google spyware on me.The only connectivity to the world I will put up with is through my phone, which at least gives me the option of turning it off or disconnecting it from the car should I choose to.No CarPlay, no sale.
  • William I think it's important to understand the factors that made GM as big as it once was and would like to be today. Let's roll back to 1965, or even before that. GM was the biggest of the Big Three. It's main competition was Ford and Chrysler, as well as it's own 5 brands competing with themselves. The import competition was all but non existent. Volkswagen was the most popular imported cars at the time. So GM had its successful 5 brands, and very little competition compared to today's market. GM was big, huge in fact. It was diversified into many other lines of business, from trains to information data processing (EDS). Again GM was huge. But being huge didn't make it better. There are many examples of GM not building the best cars they could, it's no surprise that they were building cars to maximize their profits, not to be the best built cars on the road, the closest brand to achieve that status was Cadillac. Anyone who owned a Cadillac knew it could have been a much higher level of quality than it was. It had a higher level of engineering and design features compared to it's competition. But as my Godfather used to say "how good is good?" Being as good as your competitors, isn't being as good as you could be. So, today GM does not hold 50% of the automotive market as it once did, and because of a multitude of reasons it never will again. No matter how much it improves it's quality, market value and dealer network, based on competition alone it can't have a 50% market share again. It has only 3 of its original 5 brands, and there are too many strong competitors taking pieces of the market share. So that says it's playing in a different game, therfore there's a whole new normal to use as a baseline than before. GM has to continue downsizing to fit into today's market. It can still be big, but in a different game and scale. The new normal will never be the same scale it once was as compared to the now "worlds" automotive industry. Just like how the US railroad industry had to reinvent its self to meet the changing transportation industry, and IBM has had to reinvent its self to play in the ever changing Information Technology industry it finds it's self in. IBM was once the industry leader, now it has to scale it's self down to remain in the industry it created. GM is in the same place that the railroads, IBM and other big companies like AT&T and Standard Oil have found themselves in. It seems like being the industry leader is always followed by having to reinvent it's self to just remain viable. It's part of the business cycle. GM, it's time you accept your fate, not dead, but not huge either.
  • Tassos The Euro spec Taurus is the US spec Ford FUSION.Very few buyers care to see it here. FOrd has stopped making the Fusion long agoWake us when you have some interesting news to report.
  • Marvin Im a current owner of a 2012 Golf R 2 Door with 5 grand on the odometer . Fun car to drive ! It's my summer cruiser. 2006 GLI with 33,000 . The R can be money pit if service by the dealership. For both cars I deal with Foreign car specialist , non union shop but they know their stuff !!! From what I gather the newer R's 22,23' too many electronic controls on the screen, plus the 12 is the last of the of the trouble free ones and fun to drive no on screen electronics Maze !
  • VoGhost It's very odd to me to see so many commenters reflexively attack an American company like this. Maybe they will be able to find a job with BYD or Vinfast.