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Mitsubishi plugs into an electric future

Eight is enough: Mitsubishi’s PX-MiEV concept might provide the basis for a plug-in hybrid Outlander – one of eight electrified new models planned by the company.

Eight EVs and hybrids switched on as Mitsubishi chases 25 per cent CO2 cut

21 Jan 2011

MITSUBISHI Motors Corporation is running hard on the green vehicle ticket, promising eight new full-electric or plug-in hybrid vehicles and a 25 per cent cut in vehicle carbon-dioxide emissions over 2005 levels by 2015.

The good news for Australia is that the local subsidiary of the Japanese company has its eyes firmly on this full array of new-generation vehicles that are likely to include electric or hybrid variants of mainstream models such as Lancer, Outlander and Pajero.

Details of Mitsubishi’s ambitious global plans were announced in its latest five-year mid-term plan, which it has dubbed Jump 2013 – a title that the company reflects its aims for "growth and a leap forward".

Apart from its environmental goals, Mitsubishi also plans to target emerging markets with SUVs and its new Global Small Car Colt replacement that will go into production at a new factory in Thailand.

Already under construction, the latest Thai factory – Mitsubishi’s third in the Asian kingdom – will make Thailand the company’s second biggest manufacturing base behind Japan and ahead of the United States.

Australia already receives Triton utes and the related Challenger SUV from Thailand, where the Colt replacement – to be unveiled at the Geneva motor show on March 1 – also will be made for Australian showrooms from 2012.

The growth in emerging market sales is expected to provide most of Mitsubishi’s projected one-third increase in vehicle volumes in just three years, from one million units in 2010 to 1,370,000 in 2013.

Its latest plan, Japan’s sixth largest motor company also has decided to kill regional models such as the American-specific Eclipse sports car, Galant and Endeavor crossover and European-only Colt, instead going global with models such as the Lancer, Outlander and New Global Small light car.

In the US, Mitsubishi will introduce a new model for North American and export consumption.

21 center imageMitsubishi i-MiEV, Eclipse and the 2010 Global small car concept.

Mitsubishi has promised to launch its first plug-in hybrid vehicles by 2013, and although it gave no specifics, a petrol-electric version of the next Outlander based on the PX-MiEV concept shown at the 2009 Tokyo motor show could be an early contender.

Such vehicles are expected to benefit from second-generation electric drivetrain and battery technology, which also will be incorporated in the company’s pioneering i-MiEV all-electric city car when it gets an update within the next 12 months.

While Mitsubishi says it plans to cut its vehicle CO2 emissions by 25 per cent over 2005 levels by 2015, its ultimate goal is a 50 per cent reduction by 2020.

To help achieve its goal, it plans to ramp up sales of electric vehicles to five per cent of its volume by 2015.

That will be achieved by greatly expanding the EV offerings beyond the current i-MiEV city car, with full electric or plug-in hybrid powertrains being developed for a further eight vehicles.

Mitsubishi Motors Australia Ltd (MMAL) head of corporate communications Lenore Fletcher today indicated that Australia could expect most, if not all, of the new machines.

“Australia is very interested in these developments,” she told GoAuto.

By the time the new products start arriving from 2013, the i-MiEV city car will be on general release to Australian customers.

The full-electric runabout – already on test in Australia with a range of corporate and government customers – is being progressively rolled out for general sale around the world, with European early adopters getting a chance to buy one from this month and some American drivers in selected states getting their chance from November.

To complete its green credentials, Mitsubishi also has targeted a 15 per cent cut in CO2 emissions from its production processes in the next five years.

Mitsubishi’s new plan also reiterates its intention to extend its model co-development arrangements with other manufacturers, including Nissan, with whom it is set to share a future mini car.

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