At one point in history, it was all the rage among automakers across Europe: take a regular car designed primarily as a five-seat passenger vehicle, remove the rear seats, add a heavy-duty extended load bay, and black out the rear windows to make a practical and cheap commercial vehicle.
It was a great way for automakers to keep production costs low while offering as versatile a range of vehicles as possible. While still practiced to this day with certain vehicles, back in its heyday during the 1970s and 1980s, everyone from Ford to General Motors and Fiat to Citroen made van variants of popular cars to expand their range.
Now it’s back in vogue in the UK, but for a completely different reason: to maximise plug-in car sales while taking advantage of the larger plug-in car grants offered for commercial vehicles over passenger ones.
As Motoring Research (Via GreenCarReports) details, Japanese automaker Mitsubishi has just unveiled plans to offer its highly popular Mitsubishi Outlander Plug-in Hybrid as a commercial vehicle.
Just like so many car-based commercial vehicles which went before, Mitsubishi’s Outlander Plug-in Hybrid commercial vehicle — which will be called the Outlander PHEV 4Work — will be made by replacing the rear bench seat found in the passenger-carrying Outlander SUV with an extra-long, heavy-duty load bay, turning it into a two-seat plug-in crossover SUV van. Meanwhile, the glass normally present aft of the car’s B-pillar will be filled in with metal paneling, although the car will retain its rear doors.
Why turn a perfectly functioning vehicle into a van? It’s all to do with the larger plug-in van grant offered by the UK government over its plug-in car grant.
Under the scheme, those who buy a plug-in car can claim up to £5,000 ($8,300) in grant funds, while those buying an official commercial vehicle can claim £8,000. ($13,300). Moreover, those buying a commercial vehicle for business purposes can claim back the 20 percent purchase tax normally levied on all sales from the tax man if the vehicle is exclusively for business use, regardless of the vehicle’s fuel type.
This all equates to some pretty impressive savings for any company wanting to dump the pump — or at least minimise its use in every day life.
Here at Transport Evolved, we’re glad to see the Outlander PHEV being given a work-related variant, especially given its versatile go-anywhere 4WD system.
But we can’t help but wish Mitsubishi would give its larger L200 pickup truck the Outlander’s plug-in hybrid system for an equally versatile plug-in hybrid pickup. Sadly, the L200 is built on a different platform to the Outlander — but we’re hopeful one day Mitsubishi will give businesses what they really want: a versatile 4WD plug-in pickup.
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