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Why Mitsubishi backs PHEVs over series hybrids for Australia

Mitsubishi doubles down on PHEVs, claiming they are the ideal format for eco-conscious Australians.

Mitsubishi has released its roadmap toward zero emissions in Australia, but interestingly the brand overwhelmingly backs plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) as its technology of choice.

Key Japanese rivals Toyota and Nissan meanwhile, back primarily series hybrid or predominantly electric respectively in their near futures.

Mitsubishi instead has re-affirmed its commitment to PHEV as its leading near-term technology, claiming it is ideally suited for Australia’s conditions despite an “underrepresented” uptake thus far.

The brand decries Australia’s lack of EV incentives and charging infrastructure in its roadmap white paper, but said locals can benefit from a PHEV due to the lower cost compared to a battery electric vehicle, short charging times for the smaller battery size, long range before recharging or refueling, and less need to rely on limited charging infrastructure.

It said, thus far, Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV owners are getting the full benefit from plug-in hybrid technology, spending 84 per cent of their time in purely electric mode during commutes. Although it is worth noting that as one of the earliest and most affordable options on the market, the Outlander PHEV has attracted a more engaged early adopter audience more likely to understand and make full use of their car’s features.

Mitsubishi takes aim at rival technologies in its roadmap, claiming that while series hybrids (as used to great success by Toyota) reduce fuel consumption, they do far less to reduce C02 emissions, claiming none of the energy used by such vehicles is truly emissions free.

Mitsubishi thinks PHEV technology is a better fit for most Australians. Mitsubishi thinks PHEV technology is a better fit for most Australians.

It also criticises a battery electric lead approach as being too expensive for consumers and lacking infrastructure, and hydrogen electric for lacking sufficient infrastructure, which it says is more expensive to roll out than the equivalent electric infrastructure.

Mitsubishi also criticises the current tax-reduction government approach for incentivising electrified variants as being biased toward EV and FCEVs, notably taking aim at the Victorian and NSW policies which introduce road user charges over time. These policies would see plug-in hybrids struck twice with both a fuel excise and road user charge, making them the least appealing of all options in terms of running cost.

Volkswagen has also heavily criticised these policies and has delayed or ruled out introducing its expansive range of PHEVs available in Europe, though is committed to bringing its Touareg R to Australia.

Mitsubishi is calling for encouragement of PHEV adoption to “provide a catalyst for future EV uptake by helping familiarise consumers with electric vehicles and make them more likely to purchase another one”.

Mitsubishi is looking straight past series hybrids as it doubles down on PHEV tech for its latest SUVs. Mitsubishi is looking straight past series hybrids as it doubles down on PHEV tech for its latest SUVs.

Mitsubishi said, on average, a worst-case scenario – a long-distance fleet driver – will still see a 34 per cent fully electric utilisation in an Outlander PHEV over a year of usage. While most urban commuters could see 76 per cent EV utilisation or above.

Mitsubishi will have an electric or PHEV variant of every model in its range by 2030, with an eye to achieving carbon neutrality by 2050, in some cases a full decade later than its rivals. Its long-running Outlander plug-in will receive a new-generation model late this year and a PHEV version of the Eclipse Cross has joined the range with its latest update.