Mitsubishi’s PlugIn Electric SUV

Mitsubishi’s PlugIn ElectricSUV

Many hybrid cars and SUVs are developed for sale in a specific country or perhaps two.  Mitsubishi is looking to change this pattern with a new hybrid SUV slated for availability in 2013.

The plug-in hybrid SUV is, to this point, unnamed. However, the company says it will carry the MiEV brand name. According to the company, the vehicle is part of a new Mitsubishi strategy to build cars that can be sold globally rather than for specific markets. “This [SUV] is not only for customers in developed countries like Japan, the United States, and Europe,” said Yoshikazu Nakamura, senior executive officer of Mitsubishi Motors Corp.’s global electric vehicle business. “The next target might be China or other developing countries like Brazil or India.”

The concept SUV is powered by a 1.6 litre engine delivering 114 hp. The engine works with two electric motors and includes batteries for storing electricity. According to the International Business Times, Mitsubishi claims that the vehicle will get a fuel economy of 117.6 mpg. That’s a high fuel economy for any vehicle, and the claim is particularly daring for an SUV. Other performance claims for the Px-MiEV are equally impressive. The four-wheel drive concept car has a range of 30 miles on electricity alone.

Mitsubishi aims to deliver such performance using a combination of technologies. According to the company the engine, motors, and batteries work together to maximize efficiency. At slow and moderate speeds, the SUV operates in all-electric EV Mode. In essence, the PX-MiEV becomes a front-wheel-drive vehicle, powered by its battery pack and a front electric motor. For high speed driving, the front electric motor is complemented with the power of the gasoline engine.

The PX-MiEV monitors road conditions and adapts to them. If it’s raining or snowing, electric power is automatically provided to the rear motor, turning the car into an electric four-wheel-drive vehicle.

miev-suv-plug When the battery power gets low, the PX-MiEV engages the gas engine to generate electricity. Regenerative breaks also create power by converting deceleration energy into electricity, which is stored in the battery.

Besides being a vehicle for multiple country markets, the new SUV also will play a role in another Mitsubishi marketing effort. CNet reports that the new vehicle is part of Mitsubishi’s strategy to “build its product lineup around vehicle families, or multiple models carrying a derivative of the same nameplate.” The article notes, for example, that Mitsubishi already sells three versions of the Lancer compact sedan.

One model in the MiEV line that is expected to make it to market before the new SUV is the i-MiEV. As reported in a Hybrid Cars article, this Hybrid is an electric version of a gasoline car already on sale in Japan. Mitsubishi plans to have the i-MiEV electric vehicle available in three West Coast states and Hawaii in November 2011. (Industry sources note that Mitsubishi has changed the name of the vehicle for the U.S. market from i-MiEV to the ‘i powered by MiEV’.)