Looking at the diminutive and somewhat underwhelming Mitsubishi i-MiEV, you might come to the conclusion that Mitsubishi isn’t pushing hybrid and plug-in hybrid vehicles that much.
Really, the problem boils down to high demand and poor infrastructure. Mitsubishi’s hybrid vehicles are actually very popular where they’ve already been released, such as in Japan and the Netherlands. Mitsubishi has already received more orders for the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV [Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle] than it can handle. Ramping up production to meet that demand has led to slower rollouts elsewhere, such as in North America.
This makes sense, as Mitsubishi doesn’t have the resources of larger automakers, such as global leaders General Motors, Volkswagen Group, and Toyota Motor Corporation. [In one listing, Mitsubishi falls to 16th by volume.] The North American market for plug-in hybrid vehicles has another problem, which is probably more critical. The demand for plug-ins is there, but the infrastructure is lacking, especially a fast-charging standard.
“In North America particularly, agreement is slow to come on fast charging hardware,” says Mitsubishi Motors North America executive vice-president of electric vehicle operations Masatoshi Hasegawa. “The USA’s domestic car makers are backing new fast charging hardware defined by the Society of Automotive Engineers, while Nissan and ourselves have been using the ChaDeMo standard. There needs to be agreement before everyone can benefit from the investment in infrastructure.”
Mitsubishi has big plans, such as a new Lancer EVO PHEV based on the Mitsubishi MiEV Evolution II Pikes Peak prototype racer, which is powered by a 2.0ℓ i4 engine and a pair of 60kW motors. If the new Evo is built, the all-wheel drive plug-in hybrid vehicle could be rated at something like 150mpg and have an EV range of 40 miles. If North America can get its infrastructure together, we could very well see something like this on the road soon, but when?