LOS ANGELES--Mitsubishi will launch a plug-in hybrid SUV in 2013, the head of the company's electric vehicle business unit said.
The SUV will be similar to the Px-MiEV concept car shown at the 2009 Tokyo auto show, said Yoshikazu Nakamura, senior executive officer of Mitsubishi Motors Corp.'s global electric vehicle business. The plug-in hybrid is in its final stages of development, he said.
The four-wheel-drive Px-MiEV concept was powered by a 1.6-liter four-cylinder mated to a hybrid system with two electric motors, one for the front wheels and one for the rear. Mitsubishi said at the time that the Px-MiEV could travel up to 30 miles in electric mode before switching to gasoline-electric mode.
Mitsubishi also said it will roll out its i-MiEV electric vehicle in just three West Coast states and Hawaii when U.S. sales begin in November 2011. Mitsubishi also changed the name of the vehicle for the U.S. market from i-MiEV to the "i powered by MiEV." The i will be a 2012 model when it goes on sale.
Forty-three Mitsubishi dealers in California, Washington, Oregon, and Hawaii will sell the i in its first year of U.S. sales, Nakamura said.
Mitsubishi hasn't named its plug-in hybrid SUV, but it will carry the "MiEV" moniker, Nakamura said. MiEV (rhymes with peeve) stands for "Mitsubishi innovative electric vehicle."
Launching a plug-in hybrid with the MiEV name is part of Mitsubishi's plan to build its product lineup around vehicle families, or multiple models carrying a derivative of the same nameplate. For example, Mitsubishi sells three versions of the Lancer compact sedan.
The vehicle also is part of Mitsubishi's new strategy to build cars that can be sold globally rather than engineering vehicles for specific markets.
"This is not only for customers in developed countries like Japan, the United States" and in Europe, Nakamura said. "The next target might be China or other developing countries like Brazil or India."
He said the limited range of pure electric vehicles such as the i, which has a range of 85 miles, is best suited to developed countries. In those countries, Nakamura said, such a vehicle would likely be a second car for a family or be used as a daily commuter.
In emerging countries, he said, a plug-in hybrid is more appropriate. Nakamura said many car buyers in nations such as China and India are first-time purchasers and need their vehicles to have a longer range than current EVs.
(Source: Automotive News)