Tuning of amps
Fit out your household power points and you can steer the future of SUVs — the new-frontier Outlander
MEET the SUV that changes electric car forever, and may even convert the harshest cynics. It’s a family car that can travel more than 50km on battery power alone (covering the daily commute for most motorists), drive from Sydney to Melbourne on one tank of petrol, or make its own electricity.
It sips less than 2.0L/100km or almost 150 miles per gallon in the old money.
With two electric motors (one for the front wheels, one for the rear) and all-wheeldrive grip, it knows few bounds.
Significantly, this is not an experiment on four wheels. The Mitsubishi Outlander plug-in hybrid will be in local showrooms early next year priced from less than $50,000, in the middle of luxury SUV territory.
In our exclusive first Australian drive, we didn’t just take the Outlander for a lap around the block, we took it to the place where eco-aware customers are likely to get the electricity to run it.
We ventured 200km north of Adelaide to the nation’s largest wind farm, the AGL site at Hallett, which supplies more than one-fifth of South Australia’s energy and more than half of the whole country’s wind power.
I just wish I’d brought a jacket. It can get pretty windy up there.
New technology always comes at a cost but it’s becoming within reach as each milestone passes.
Twelve years ago, when the cockroach-shaped Honda Insight became the first hybrid car on sale in Australia, it cost $50,000 despite its rather rudimentary petrol-electric system (which hasn’t advanced much since).
There was amazement when the first Toyota Prius came in at $40,000 one year later. That was a lot of money for a car the same size as a Corolla, but at least it was $10,000 cheaper than the tiny Honda two-door.
Fast forward to 2011, when the Holden Volt once again tested our faith in this newfangled technology.
The Volt can drive on battery power for up to 80km before its petrol engine comes in to stretch driving range to 400km.
However, $60,000 was a big ask for a four-seat sedan the same size as the Holden Cruze on which it’s based.
So imagine a family-sized SUV with leather seats, touchscreen navigation, radar cruise control, premium sound system, the usual gadgets you’d expect on a $50,000 SUV — and plug-in as well as petrol power.
Mitsubishi is yet to confirm price but Australians won’t have long to ponder. The Outlander PHEV is due in local showrooms in April.