Mitsubishi Pushes U.S. Launch Plans For 2017 Outlander Plug-in Hybrid SUV Back, Says Specs May Change (Again)

In the UK, it outsells the all-electric Nissan LEAF two to one, allows SUV-loving families to dramatically reduce their carbon footprint and their gas bill, and (in Europe and Asia at least) offers owners the capability to rapidly replenish its tiny 12 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack from empty to 80 percent full in under 20 minutes at a compatible DC quick charge station.

And more than two years after it went on sale in its home market of Japan and after countless rescheduling of planned launch dates, the Mitsubishi Outlander Plug-in Hybrid was due to finally launch in the U.S. this coming summer as a 2017 model-year car.

Customers have been waiting for the U.S. version of the popular plug-in for years.

Customers have been waiting for the U.S. version of the popular plug-in for years.

But as our friends over at GreenCarReports discovered at the recent New York Auto Show, Mitsubishi has quietly pushed back the launch of its plug-in hybrid SUV yet again. Instead of the already-delayed late-summer launch, Mitsubishi’s U.S. company spokesperson Alex Fedorak now says a launch date of November is now being planned.

Initially, Mitsubishi blamed the delay of its U.S. Outlander plug-in hybrid launch on its desire to ensure that the car received the correct upgrades and improvements to make it more appealing to U.S. buyers. That revision, timed to coincide with the mid-cycle refresh of the gasoline-powered Outlander, brought with it a revised grille, improved handling and a mildly refreshed interior. It also brought with it some mild tweaks to the Outlander PHEV’s power mapping, ensuring a smoother transition between electric and internal combustion engine modes, smoother gear changes, and tweaked fuel economy.

We know for sure U.S. models won't get CHAdeMO DC quick charging.

We know for sure U.S. models won’t get CHAdeMO DC quick charging.

Frustratingly, as we noted to our dismay earlier this year, that upgrade also came with the news that U.S. customers would not get the CHAdeMO DC quick charge port that makes the Outlander PHEV a versatile zero-emission errand-runner in Europe and Japan.

This time, GreenCarReports hints, the delay is partly due to Mitsubishi’s desire to include an extra trim level for its U.S. customers, indicating perhaps that Mitsubishi is particularly nervous about bringing the mid-range plug-in SUV to market when plenty of other automakers — including Audi, BMW, Volvo and Mercedes-Benz — are all planning high-end luxury plug-in hybrids with similar all-electric ranges.

Interestingly, Fedorak also hints that the Outlander PHEV now due to launch in the U.S. this November could be significantly different to its European and Japanese counterparts. Aside from the deletion of CHAdeMO, Fedorak said Mitsubishi North America is keen to make sure the Outlander PHEV is a car that will appeal to U.S. buyers.

“It’s not the European spec,” he confirmed. “We’re tailoring it for the U.S. market, and that’s affecting range, MPGe, acceleration, and performance numbers, too.”

What exactly will change though remains a mystery. While Fedorak didn’t seem to rule out an upgrade to the Outlander PHEV’s battery pack in terms of cell chemistry, he did hint that the overall battery capacity will remain around 12 kilowatt-hours. The engine too, is expected to remain the same 2.0-litre four-cylinder version found in the Outlander PHEV in Europe and Asia.

We’ll find more about the tweaks in the coming months, as well as a finalised price and package list.

For now though, if you’re on the lookout for a plug-in hybrid SUV in the U.S., you may find yourself waiting a little longer to buy the Outlander PHEV — or looking elsewhere.

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