Mitsubishi plans electric trio

By Alastair Sloane

A hybrid version of the ASX (above) may be released before the petrol-electric version of the Outlander SUV. Photo / Supplied
A hybrid version of the ASX (above) may be released before the petrol-electric version of the Outlander SUV. Photo / Supplied

Mitsubishi is likely to offer a plug-in hybrid version of the compact ASX sports utility vehicle as its second electric vehicle, after the launch in New Zealand next month of the i-MiEV, the battery-powered version of the company's small iCity hatchback.

The i-MiEV goes on sale for $59,990, which includes a three-year/100,000km warranty, three years' free servicing and the installation of one 15-amp socket in the home garage for charging.

A petrol-electric version of the Outlander SUV was expected to be available in 2012 as the second Mitsubishi EV after the iMiEV, but the carmaker has hinted that the Outlander will be pushed back a year in favour of the hybrid ASX.

The hybrid ASX is likely to share many of its electrical components with the plug-in Outlander, now expected in 2013.

The i-MiEV, ASX and Outlander will be among eight EV or plug-in hybrid vehicles to be produced by the Japanese carmaker by 2015.

All Mitsubishi models will get either full-electric or plug-in petrol-electric hybrid powertrains as an option alongside conventional petrol and diesel engines.

The plug-in Outlander is expected to be based on the PX-MiEV concept first shown at the 2009 Tokyo motor show.

Mitsubishi said the concept had a range of 50km on battery power before a 1.6-litre petrol engine kicked in to generate electricity for longer journeys.

Although powering the front wheels in normal driving, the PX-MiEV can switch to all-wheel drive by powering an electric motor on the rear axle when wheel slip is detected.

Mitsubishi says this technology will allow SUV owners to retain their active lifestyles while at the same time reducing their impact on the environment.

Meantime, two i-MiEV examples have been sold to individuals in Auckland, said Mitsubishi NZ marketing manager Daniel Cook.

"These are the first mass-produced EVs available to Kiwis and we're excited to be able to deliver this leading-edge, environmentally-conscious technology."

The Mitsubishi i-MiEV is a four-seat hatchback based on the body design of the Mitsubishi i-Car, which used a turbocharged 660cc petrol engine and first sold in New Zealand in 2007.

The tall and narrow body design measures 3475mm in length, 1475mm wide and is 1610mm tall while the kerb weight is 1110kg.

The rear-mounted 49kW permanent magnet synchronous type electric motor is powered by 88 lithium-ion batteries stowed under the floor of the i-MiEV.

The power is transferred directly to the wheels via a reduction gear without the need for transmission, which means the motor's power is available immediately - further enhancing the acceleration.

The battery pack allows an estimated range of 150km and a top speed of 130km/h.

Conventional charging using a domestic supply takes about seven hours with a 30-minute three-phase fast charge option from special recharging outlets.

Mitsubishi Motors NZ estimates each full charge costs about $5 based on a 25cents/kWh domestic power rate.

- NZ Herald

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