It may sound like science fiction but a family-sized SUV that runs on electric power – which can be driven long distances and doesn’t cost the earth – is just around the corner.
Japanese car maker Mitsubishi is putting the finishing touches on its plug-in hybrid Outlander SUV before it goes on sale in June this year.
Pricing is yet to be confirmed but Mitsubishi is hoping to bring it in between $40,000 and $50,000 – under-cutting the $60,000 Holden Volt plug-in hybrid sedan by at least $10,000.
The Outlander SUV plug-in hybrid can travel 55km on electric power alone and then 880km using its petrol motor (compared to the Holden Volt which can travel 88km on electric power and about 400km on petrol power).
This range gives the Outlander a remarkable fuel consumption rating of 1.6L/100km; a Toyota Prius hybrid uses 3.7L/100km. “This will put future technology in the driveways of mums and dads today,” said Mitsubishi Australia vice president Paul Unerkov. “This is the first practical use of this technology.”
The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV has no space compromises compared with the regular petrol powered model and is available with five seats. A seven-seater may follow. (The Volt is a four-seater sedan with limited boot space).
“We need to price this car where the SUV market is,” he said. “There is no point pricing it out of reach. So our plan is to have this vehicle at a modest premium from our regular models.” The $40,000 to $50,000 SUV market is one of the biggest, so Mitsubishi has high hopes for the Outlander PHEV.
“Over a year, we aim to sell them in the thousands, not the hundreds,” he said, adding that price would not be confirmed until closer to the June launch this year. The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV uses its petrol engine at cruising speeds and electric power at slow speeds and when moving from rest. The petrol engine is also used to charge the battery pack, as it does in the Holden Volt.
The Volt has longer battery-only range, but the Outlander has almost double the overall driving range. "We had the car on our stand at Sydney Motor Show last year and we got a lot of interest from families," said Unerkov. They saw this as a plug-in hybrid they could actually use every day and every weekend."
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