2012 Paris Motor Show Preview: Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV

Article by Christian Andrei, on September 6, 2012

Mitsubishi has unveiled more technical details for the Mitsubishi Outlander Plug-in Hybrid, which will be revealed to the public at the upcoming Paris Motor Show. The automaker said that the Outlander PHEV (Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle) is the first plug-in hybrid SUV in the world. Its powertrain is a development of systems that are already used on pure-electric Mitsubishi vehicles like the i-MiEV electric city car.

The front and rear wheels drive the two separate electric motors, taking away the need for a propshaft. It also provides a more refined control and response compared to mechanical four-wheel drive systems. Just like what could be expected of electric motors, the maximum torque could be immediately generated, enabling the PHEV to haven an acceleration time comparable with the others in the Outlander range.

Its lithium-ion batteries have a total voltage of 300V. An 80% charge can be achieved in about 30 minutes in quick-charge mode. It takes 4.5 hours to fully charge the battery from 0%. The 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine comes with Mitsubishi’s established MIVEC electronically-controlled variable valve timing system.

Mitsubishi is targeting a combined fuel efficiency of more than 172mpg, with 547 miles for the combined range and 42 miles in purely electric mode. The vehicle is capable of switching automatically between three driving modes -- EV Drive, Series Hybrid and Parallel Hybrid – depending on road conditions and the battery charge that’s available.

When in EV Drive mode, the car can be purely driven by the front and rear motors obtaining power from the drive battery. When battery charge falls below a certain level, or when more power is needed for overtaking, the car shifts to Series Hybrid mode, where the petrol engine functions as a generator to provide electricity to the electric motors.

To make driving faster, the car changes to the Parallel Hybrid mode where the engine accomplishes majority of the work, with the electric motors contributing when necessary. The car could be manually switched to a mode wherein the engine would charge the battery, whether stationary or in motion.

Press Release

World Premiere of Mitsubishi Motors' Outlander PHEV with State-of-the-Art Plug-in Hybrid EV System at 2012 Paris Motor Show

Mitsubishi Motors Corporation (MMC) will present the global debut of the new Outlander PHEV at the 2012 Paris Motor Show (or "Mondial de L' Automobile 2012") held from Thursday, September 27th through Sunday, October 14th*1. The Outlander PHEV uses the Plug-in Hybrid EV System powertrain developed by MMC and derived from its lineup of all-electric models.
*1: For more information please visit http://www.mondial-automobile.com/en/ (English).

Outlander PHEV is the world's first plug-in hybrid SUV and offers the best of three worlds: the environmental performance of an electric vehicle (EV), the cruising range of a conventional internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicle, and the on- and off-road performance of an SUV. MMC is due to bring Outlander PHEV to market first in Japan early in 2013.

Alongside the Outlander PHEV, MMC will be displaying a total of 11 vehicles (seven on press days) on its stand at the Paris Motor Show, including: the new European version of MMC's global compact car (called Mirage in other countries) which makes its debut; the ASX compact crossover which has been refreshed for the 2013 model year; and a display model of the i-MiEV Evolution 100% electric racecar which took part in the 2012 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb held in the United States in August.

1. New Outlander PHEV

The new Outlander PHEV, to be unveiled for the first time at the 2012 Paris Motor Show, is based on the new Outlander which first debuted in Russia in July and is to be introduced in other European markets starting from September. The Outlander PHEV uses MMC's own Plug-in Hybrid EV System powertrain derived from 100% electric systems used on the i-MiEV and other MMC all-electric vehicles. The Outlander PHEV is the world's first plug-in hybrid SUV, and brings together the environmental performance and quietness that distinguish EVs while delivering the utility and on- and off-road performance associated with 4WD sport utility vehicles and the cruising range of a conventional ICE-powered vehicle.

Targeting the mid-size category and above, which require extended cruising range, the Outlander PHEV's Plug-in Hybrid EV System fuses together the EV technologies proven on MMC's i-MiEV - the pioneering 100%-electric car brought to market in 2009 - with the very latest ICE environmental technologies, including MMC's MIVEC*2 variable valve timing system. Employing electrical power stored in the drive battery by charging either at home, a charging station or when the system recovers energy when decelerating, the Plug-in Hybrid EV System gives the Outlander PHEV gasoline-sipping performance, with a target combined fuel efficiency*3 in excess of 61 km/liter, greatly superior to that of vehicles powered by a conventional engine, and a cruising range in excess of 880 km, which is on a par with a conventional ICE-powered car.
*2: Mitsubishi Innovative Valve timing Electronic Control system.
*3: Representative fuel efficiency figure based on a combination of the vehicle's fuel consumption when driven in all-electric mode, called the plug-in fuel efficiency, and when driven in hybrid mode, called the hybrid fuel efficiency (measured via Japan's JC08 mode)

MMC will introduce Outlander PHEV in the Japanese market in early 2013 then sequentially roll out the model in Europe, North America, and other markets around the world. Some major features are introduced below.

1) Automatic Selection of Three Drive Modes for Optimal Efficiency

Depending on driving conditions and remaining battery charge, the Plug-in Hybrid EV powertrain automatically selects the optimum drive mode (see below) for comfortable driving while providing superior fuel efficiency.
a) EV Drive Mode
EV Drive Mode is an all-electric mode in which the front and rear motors drive the vehicle using only electricity from the drive battery. With zero on-road gasoline consumption and zero CO2 emissions the driver can enjoy quiet and very eco-friendly performance in this mode.
b) Series Hybrid Mode
In Series Hybrid Mode the gasoline engine operates as a generator supplying electricity to the electric motors. The system switches to this mode when the remaining charge in the battery falls below a predetermined level and when more powerful performance is required, such as accelerating to pass a vehicle or climbing a steep gradient such as a slope.
c) Parallel Hybrid Mode
In Parallel Hybrid Mode the gasoline engine provides most of the motive power, assisted by the electric motors as required. The system switches to this mode for higher-speed driving when the gasoline engine operates at peak efficiency.

2) High-capacity Drive Battery Offers Driving Versatility

The high-capacity 12 kWh lithium-ion drive battery gives Outlander PHEV an EV Drive Mode cruising range of over 55 km (JC08 mode*4), sufficient for all-electric operation in most everyday situations*5.
The driver can also manually switch to Battery Charge Mode in which the gasoline engine acts as a generator and charges the drive battery whether the vehicle is stationary or on the move. Battery Charge Mode gives the driver the flexibility to use the gasoline engine as a generator at any time they want; for example if the driver wants to use EV Drive Mode at a specific time, they can make sure the drive battery has enough energy for that time.
*4: An official method of measuring vehicle fuel consumption introduced by the Japanese government.
*5: "Most everyday situations" is based on a JCAP (Japan Clean Air Program) study conducted in Japan which showed that on average, 85% of Japanese drivers drove less than 55km per day.

3) Twin Motor 4WD System Provides Superior Response

The Outlander PHEV uses a Twin Motor 4WD system comprising independent electric motors to drive the front and rear wheels. In addition to decreased friction loss Twin Motor 4WD delivers better response and finer control than conventional mechanical systems. It accomplishes this without a propeller shaft or other mechanical components seen in conventional mechanical systems. The Twin Motor 4WD system is integrated with Mitsubishi's well-proven S-AWC (Super All Wheel Control) integrated vehicle dynamics control system to deliver high levels of stability and all-terrain performance and ensure the vehicle behaves just as the driver intends it to.
In addition, the front and rear electric motors generate maximum torque immediately, an inherent characteristic of electric motors, giving acceleration comparable to that of a vehicle powered by a large displacement high-output ICE and allowing Outlander PHEV to deliver superior levels of environmental and driving performance.

2. European version of new global compact car

The European version of MMC's new global compact car (Mirage in other regions) is a compact car developed focusing on high fuel efficiency, affordability and compactness - the universally recognized values sought in a compact car- and which meets the needs both of an "eco-car" for advanced countries and of an entry-level car for emerging countries.
Following its March 2012 debut in Thailand, where it is being produced, the new global compact car has been introduced in ASEAN countries and in Japan to high acclaim from customers. The new model is due to be rolled out all over the globe, next in Europe, Australia, and other markets. Introduction in Europe is slated for February 2013.

Against a backdrop of ever-more stringent CO2 emission regulations, demand for "eco-cars" is growing in Europe. The European version of the new global compact car delivers CO2 emissions of only 92 g/km (1.0-liter 3-cylinder MIVEC engine with 5-speed manual transmission version). The European version of the new global compact car achieves this through the use of environmental performance-increasing methods including exhaustive weight reduction (845kg, 3710mm long, 1665mm wide), aerodynamic drag reduction (CD of 0.27, measured in-house), the use of an all-new 1.0L three-cylinder MIVEC engine, along with the adoption of Mitsubishi's own Auto Stop & Go (AS&G) idling stop system. With its compact body dimensions the European version of the new global compact car delivers easy-to-drive maneuverability and peppy performance while at the same time maximizing interior occupant space through its high-efficiency packaging.

3. Other models

1) 2013 ASX (European version)

The ASX is a compact crossover launched in European markets in May 2010 and is proving popular for its quality and sporty exterior and interior design as well as for its outstanding motive and environmental performance.
After undergoing a number of subtle changes mainly on the exterior, the 2013 ASX is due to be released sporting a more refined and high-quality design this autumn.

2) i-MiEV Evolution

The i-MiEV Evolution is a 100% electric racecar which uses the same motor, drive battery and other major components as the production i-MiEV but with a race body designed to reduce weight and deliver maximum aerodynamic performance. Comprising a single motor driving the front wheels and two motors driving the rear wheels the car's electric 4WD powertrain delivers superior motive performance and outstanding handling and stability.
Entering for the first time, i-MiEV finished second in the Electric Division of the 2012 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb held last month in the United States. Participation in the event allowed MMC to collect valuable data and knowhow that will be applied in the development of future models featuring electric powertrains or electric/ICE hybrid powertrains.

3) MiEV House

Also on display at the Paris Motor Show will be the MiEV House which was shown at the Tokyo Motor Show last year and the Geneva Motor Show this March.
Starring the i-MiEV, the MiEV House is a demonstration of how recycled drive batteries and other EV components, as well as solar panels and electricity charging stations can be used to maximize the efficient use of domestic energy. It is an example of the application of an EV in an integrated renewable energy system which couples a Home Energy Management System (HEMS).
With HEMS monitoring and regulating household and EV power usage in combination with auxiliary battery-stored energy and renewable energy from solar panels, energy usage efficiency is maximized to lower power consumption without interrupting normal household power usage.

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