New Outlander hybrid plugs-in to successful formula

Mitsubishi Motors has launched its Outlander plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV ), calling it a game changing. And as the first plug-in hybrid SUV available for Irish motorists, I suppose that comment has some merit. Time will tell to what extent this innovative model and smart hybrid technology influences buyers.

It features a sophisticated PHEV operating system, which Mitsubishi says represents a breakthrough motoring solution providing clean, highly efficient performance in a robust and spacious SUV body, with advanced safety protection including 4WD control.

The entry level launch price is €41,950 for the Intense+ version, which includes the €5,000 SEAI grant and Government VRT relief for plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (currently in place until December 31, 2014 ). The price is also inclusive of batteries.

This price-tag compares favourably with the equivalent diesel version in the current Outlander line-up that retails at €39,950.

And the PHEV version presents an alternative for families and business users alike seeking to reduce the cost of motoring without compromising on performance or function.

Mitsubishi says the ultra-low running costs of the Outlander PHEV are a key advantage over traditional petrol and diesel cars, with ownership benefits including: €1.20 to charge the electric drive battery at home for a cruising range of 52km; 1.9 l/100km combined fuel economy; a 5-year battery warranty; low service and maintenance costs; the second lowest road tax bracket at €170 a year – Tax Band A1 for CO2 emissions of less than 80g/km; zero exhaust emissions in EV mode – cleaner for the environment, and free home charging point installation for the first 2,000 electric car owners.

For small business owners, as well as more extensive commercial fleets, the benefits of the Outlander PHEV - such as reduced fuel, emission and running costs, are obvious. However, in addition to this, under the ACA (accelerated capital allowances ) scheme, operated by the SEAI, companies can write off 100 per cent of the purchase value of “qualifying energy efficient equipment” including a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle against their profit in the year of purchase. You need to check-out www.seai.ie for full details on this.

A high level of equipment and safety features will come as standard on the Outlander PHEV 18” alloy wheels, front fog-lights with daytime running lights (DRL ), dual-zone automatic air conditioning; seven airbags including drivers knee airbag; leather wrapped multi-function steering wheel; cruise control; Bluetooth system with voice control and parking sensors.

And at the heart of everything is the PHEV operating system that incorporates three different drive modes:

The EV drive mode is an all-electric mode in which the front and rear motors drive the vehicle using only electricity from the drive battery.

In the series hybrid mode, the car is still powered by the front and rear motors, the petrol engine operates as a generator supplying electricity to the electric motors.

In the third, the system switches to Parallel Hybrid Mode when the vehicle reaches consistently high speeds. In this mode the high-efficiency petrol engine provides most of the motive power, assisted by the electric motors as required.

The system bias is to switch back to the EV Drive Mode or Series Hybrid Modes as often and as soon as possible.

Some very impressive performance highlights of the new Outlander PHEV include: zero CO2 tailpipe emissions in EV mode; 1.9 l/100km (or 148 mpg ) fuel combined economy and it has 60kW electric motors located on the front and rear axles.

The 121PS 2.0-litre MIVEC (Mitsubishi innovative valve timing electronic control ) DOHC petrol engine which keeps the engine in optimal efficiency ranges by continuously varying the timing of the air intake valves according to engine speed in parallel hybrid mode. It has a top speed of 170km/h and total combined range of 824km.

The Outlander PHEV also features twin motor 4WD coupled with S-AWC (super-all wheel control ). And it has received a five-star Euro NCAP safety rating.

The drive battery is a high-capacity lithium-ion battery developed for the PHEV system based on the technology used in the i-MiEV. It consists of 80 cells housed in a battery pack enclosed in a secure frame, and has a total voltage of 300V and total storage capacity of 12.0kWh.

During deceleration, the motors function as generators so that electricity can be generated to charge the drive battery. The regenerative braking can be increased when the brake pedal is pressed. The strength of regenerative braking is adjustable using the selector lever, which has three strength settings, and a paddle selector on the steering wheel, which offers six strength settings.

When using on-the-go battery charge function, driver activated function provides 80 per cent charge in c40 mins. And in the battery save mode, driver selected function to save existing battery charge level with option to drive in EV mode later.

The on-board recharging system with cable can be done from flat-to-full in 4.5-hours, while the on-board rapid charging system can go from flat-to-80 per cent full in 30 minutes.

On electric power only, the Outlander PHEV can travel up to 52.5kms (or 32.5 miles ), enabling it to function entirely as an electric vehicle in most everyday situations – it more than covers than Ireland’s average daily commute of 40 miles.

There is an acoustic vehicle alerting system to warn pedestrians of approaching vehicle below 35 km/h.

The Outlander PHEV Instyle version can be remotely controlled through specially-designed smartphone or tablet applications, making available a variety of functions, including scheduled charging, pre-air conditioning, and access to information on battery charge and door status.

The Outlander PHEV is the world’s first self-power generating twin motor (permanent ) 4WD plug-in hybrid SUV. It delivers on environmental performance, has the cruising range of a conventional vehicle, and offers the on and off-road performance of an SUV.

The combination of the Outlander’s powerful electric motors and petrol engine give it a smooth, quiet, refined ride with an official fuel consumption figure of 148mpg for ideal driving.

Watch out for a commercial version of the Outlander PHEV in the near future and, as I saw at the Geneva Motor Show last march, there are more new models on the way with this innovative technology. For now, I look forward to seeing if the Outlander PHEV can fulfil the promise of a true hybrid. For now, it certainly is the greenest SUV yet.

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