Mitsubishi’s first plug-in hybrid — the 2014 Outlander Plug-in Hybrid — may have recently had its U.S. launch date delayed due to a plethora of problems with supply and manufacture of its lithium-ion battery pack, but as of yesterday, the plug-in crossover SUV is finally available in Europe.
More months late than we care to count, the Mitsubishi Outlander Plug-in Hybrid looks just like its gasoline and diesel-powered siblings, but combines a 2.0-litre turbocharged engine with two, 50 kilowatt electric motors for true all-wheel drive electric capabilities.
The 50 kilowatt motors, along with the 12 kilowatt-hour battery pack, are the same ones found in Mitsubishi’s all-electric city car, the i-Miev EV. But when placed into the much larger Outlander PHEV, they work in tandem to produce a total of 245 pound feet (332 Nm) of torque, can provide up to 34 miles (52 km) of all-electric range, and can drive at speeds of up to 75 mph (120 kph).
At first, the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV might not seem the greenest of cars. For a start, it isn’t exactly all that aerodynamic, meaning it uses more energy to push itself through the air than say, a compact hatchback. In combined gasoline and electric mode, it is expected to return about 148 miles per imperial gallon (1.9 litres per 100km), but in gasoline only, it manages just 48.7 miles per imperial gallon. Given the propensity of the EU test cycle to be overly optimistic on range and fuel economy (it rates the 2013 Nissan LEAF as having a 124 mile range when real-world range is nearer 80 miles per charge) we’d be surprised if 10mpg or so was knocked off both figures in real-life.
But it’s important to understand that Mitsubishi has not built the Oultander PHEV to satisfy just emissions requirements: it has built a plug-in car which aims to fulfil all the needs of an average family, while still carrying our the daily commute in all-electric mode.
Like the Volvo V60 Plug-in Hybrid, which has already proven itself popular with European buyers, the Outlander Plug-in Hybrid has been designed and approved to tow 1.5 metric tons (3,306 pounds).This makes it the ideal choice for those who need a low-emissions commuter vehicle but also want the versatility offered by an SUV at the weekend, using it to two their caravan, boat, or horse trailer at the weekend. With all-electric four-wheel drive too, there shouldn’t be a problem getting the Outlander PHEV to play nice on muddy or snowy ground, either.
Unlike other plug-in hybrids which tend to come with only slow, 3.3 kilowatt on-board chargers, the Outlander Plug-in Hybrid features the same CHAdeMO quick charging port found on cars like the Nissan LEAF and Mitsubishi i-Miev, making it possible for owners to extend their car’s limited all-electric range easily and quickly at CHAdeMO quick-charge stations. This could actually make the 1.8 metric ton (3,990 pound) plug-in SUV more efficient on long-distance trips than say, the Chevrolet Volt, provided drivers make use of quick charge stations along the way.
We think the ability to tow, combined with a limited — yet still practical — all-electric range, a massive 591 litre (20 cubic feet) load bay, and a familiar, well-respected form factor will make the Outlander PHEV a hit with outdoor-going families and those in rural communities.
But despite an expected price tag of around £35,000 after a £5,000 government grant in the UK getting one won’t be easy just yet. That’s because Mitsubishi is still clawing its way through a massive backlog of orders caused by a multi-month halt in production in its native Japan earlier this year after it was discovered that a fault in its battery pack manufacturing process could lead to battery fires.
That production backlog means that while European sales have started, with cars now being delivered in EV-friendly Northern European countries, deliveries in the UK won’t start until March next year and U.S. deliveries are unlikely before 2015.
We’re eager to get behind the wheel of one and put it through its paces. But would you want one? Let us know in the Comments below.
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