It’s been one of the most popular plug-in cars on sale in the world, rocketing to the top of the European plug in car charts for 2014, outselling even the all-electric Nissan LEAF. And for the past year or so, we’ve been promised the popular plug-in hybrid will get a refresh before making its U.S. debut this year as a 2016 model year car.
But as Automotive News (via GreenCarReports) details, Mitsubishi has taken the decision to wait until Q2 2016 before unveiling the second-generation of this popular plug-in, almost a full year after the refreshed gasoline 2016 Outlander is due to go on sale.
The news comes as Mitsubishi dealers across the U.S. are readying themselves for a flurry of fresh new Mitsubishi cars, including the all-new 2016 Outlander Sport, 2016 Outlander and 2015 Lancer.
Yet while Mitsubishi’s gasoline line up gets a refresh, its only plug-in model will remain the diminutive, low-volume i-Miev for a little while longer.
The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV isn’t the only Mitsubishi model to be delayed to market. Back in late 2013, Mitsubishi, working alongside Nissan and Renault, announced a joint project to build a mid-sized sedan for the U.S. market. But after reaching an impasse with its fellow Japanese automaker and its alliance partner Renault, Mitsubishi says that project is currently on hold.
The reasons for Mitsubishi’s delay to the next-generation 2016 Outlander Plug-in Hybrid are unknown, but with battery technology evolving at an astonishing rate and several other mid and full-size plug-in hybrid SUVs — including cars by Volvo, Mercedes-Benz, and BMW — due to enter the market in the next twelve months, Mitsubishi’s decision to hold back a little longer could pay dividends.
For example, if Mitsubishi waits for other automakers to play their own cards first, it can then specify and produce a mid-sized plug-in hybrid that either matches the features of the high-end brands but at a lower price, or offer a cut-down version that offers all of the gas mileage benefits of more prestigious brands with a more everyday, practical interior.
Indeed, we suspect this motivation is driven by past experiences.
Back in 2010, Mitsubishi was the first global automaker to begin sales of a production electric car, its tiny four-seat i-Miev Kei-class hatchback. But as Mitsubishi quickly found out, the kudos of being first to market was quickly overshadowed by the far more practical and better-equipped Nissan LEAF, which went on sale a year later at a price point which aggressively targeted the tiny i-Miev.
Last year, just 196 Mitsubishi i-Mievs were sold in the U.S., with similarly low numbers around the world. Despite being redesigned to make it comply with U.S. safety regulations, the 2014 Mitsubishi i-Miev is essentially the same car which rolled off the domestic market production lines in Japan back in 2009. By today’s modern electric car standards, it appears terribly dated.
Like many who have driven the Mitsubishi Outlander plug-in hybrid and liked its versatile operation, CHAdeMO quick charging feature and all-wheel drive capabilities, we too would like to see the next-generation Outlander plug-in hybrid hit the U.S. market sooner rather than later.
Given Mitsubishi’s past experience with being first however, we can understand it wanting to play it a little more cautiously this time. If that ultimately gives Mitsubishi time to produce a more finished, more appealing plug-in, we think we can wait a few more months.
And after all, if Tesla can delay its much-drooled-over Model X a few times, can’t Mitsubishi too?
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