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Thursday, December 16, 2010

Mitsubishi to Engineer All Future Models to be Electric

The new 2012 Mitsubishi I may be the latest and greatest electric vehicle from the Japanese automaker, but the company's electrification efforts don't stop there. New reports suggest virtually every new Mitsubishi model will be developed with either an electric or hybrid spin-off in mind.

"Every new car we develop will also be able to be driven by electricity," (translated) Helmut Bauer, Mitsubishi's German spokesman, told Automobilwoche.

Perhaps the first instance of this will be the company's new crossover. We know such a model, based upon the PX-MiEV concept shown at the 2009 Tokyo Auto Show, is already under development. Automobilwoche suggests the model will be based off the existing Outlander, but sport a hybrid drive system similar to that used in the PX-MiEV concept. As a result, look for the system to pair dual electric motors with a small 1.6-liter I-4, the latter functioning primarily as a generator to extend the PHEV's range. Mitsubishi has confirmed the car is already in the first stages of development, and will launch sometime in 2013.

Another possibility lies with performance cars. We reported earlier this year that the company's next-generation Lancer Evolution (the Evo XI, for those keeping score) could possibly adopt a hybrid-electric system similar to that of the PX-MiEV. An electric motor will drive the front wheels, while a turbocharged 2.0-liter I-4 will primarily power the rear axle. Drivers may be able to select a pure EV setting for short, low-speed jaunts, but the entire system could be tuned to give a net output north of the 350 horsepower mark.

Even if a hybrid-electric Evo doesn't pan out, this plan seems like a no-brainer for Mitsubishi. Since the cost of developing new vehicles is tremendously expensive, insuring each new launch is capable of being manufactured with several different powertrain offerings -- electric and hybrid systems included -- may be the best way to leverage limited R&D budgets.

Source: Automobilewoche

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