OUTLANDER PHEV SAMPLED
automania was in Japan recently to drive the mitsubishi outlander phev, a plug-in hybrid.
We got behind the wheel of the Mitsubishi plug-in hybrid on the sidelines of the Tokyo Motor Show.
m ITSUBISHI Motors Corp has already made waves in the EV (electric vehicle) market with its i-MiEV for urban motoring with its 160km range. It is now extending its environmentally friendly motoring to include the PHEV (plug-in hybrid electric vehicle).
This is the Outlander 4WD PHEV that won the Innovation Award in the Japan Car of the Year 2013-2014 for the SUV’s sustainable ‘green’ role in modern motoring.
The Outlander PHEV is already being sold in Japan alongside the standard version.
The difference in price between the PHEV and the conventional model is about 800,000 yen or about RM26,400, but with the Government subsidy for clean vehicle purchases, the difference is reduced to 400,000 yen.
The PHEV is more of an electric vehicle than the hybrid that we know locally in the Toyota Prius and Prius c, and the Honda Insight, Jazz Hybrid and CR-Z hybrid.
It runs mainly on electric power and the internal combustion 2.0-litre engine kicks in when it is required to generate more electricity for overtaking, going up a steep incline or other ‘ heavy duty’ needs.
The PHEV system Mitsubishi has developed is intended for use in mid-size and larger vehicles that require a longer cruising range.
The system comprises a lithium-ion battery located centrally under the vehicle’s floorboard: in front are the engine, electric power drive unit, generator, and front electric motor, while the rear has the fuel tank, rear electric motor, and electric motor control unit.
Mitsubishi says this component layout under the floor is done to optimise weight distribution and give the Outlander a low centre of gravity, thereby enhancing its handling and stability.
Using two electric motors to drive the wheels is considered a better approach. On electric power, the Outlander PHEV can cover 60km, but its combined total mileage is almost 900km.
The Mitsubishi engineers had all the controls for the drive battery, motors, engine and 4WD system integrated and the vehicle automatically selects the optimum drive mode - EV Drive Mode, Series Hybrid Mode or Parallel Hybrid Mode - depending on driving conditions and the drive battery power.
In EV Drive Mode, the two motors power the vehicle using electricity from the battery, while in Series Hybrid Mode, the motors power the vehicle using electricity generated by the engine when climbing hills or rapidly accelerating.
This is indicated on the central multiinformation screen on the dashboard in an engine icon, which goes off once the SUV resumes electric mobility.
Parallel Hybrid Mode is activated when driving at high speed or cruising on highways and the engine mainly powers the vehicle with the electric motors providing assistance when passing other vehicles, going up steep gradients, and so on.
When the drive battery runs low, the
engine functions like a generator to provide additional electricity.
Electricity is also generated during deceleration and braking through the regenerative means usually employed in hybrid cars.
In low and mid-range speeds (30-35kph and 60-65kph respectively), the Outlander PHEV’s acceleration performance is quicker than its conventional siblings, both the 2.4litre and 3.0-litre variants.
Two of the three vehicle concepts that Mitsubishi displayed for the first time at the recent 43rd Tokyo Motor Show will have the PHEV system when they become production models.
Mitsubishi also entered the Outlander PHEV in the FIA Asia Cross Country Rally 2013 that ran from Thailand to Laos in August, which was a ‘successful finisher’ in that it completed the gruelling off-road event.
The Outlander PHEV is a four-wheel drive with a difference: both the front and rear have transaxles with a single-speed ratio that are not interlinked as in the conventional Outlander 4WD models.
You can still lock all four wheels for driving through rough off-road terrain and the system is assisted by the S-AWC (Super All Wheel Control) that includes Active Stability Control and Active Yaw Control.
In output, the 2.0-litre engine, serving mainly as a generator, puts out a modest 118PS at 4,500rpm and 186Nm at the same engine peak.
Each of the electric motor generates 82PS, while the front unit delivers 137Nm and the bigger motor at the rear puts out 195Nm.
The combined fuel efficiency is rated at 67km per litre while the hybrid engine fuel efficiency is 18.6km/l. The top speed on electric power is 120kph after which the engine takes over.
Mitsubishi arranged for the international media to get a drive impression of the Outlander PHEV at the Mobara twin circuit in the Chiba Prefecture, about 30km from Tokyo.
To get there, we had the experience of travelling through a tunnel under the water for almost 10km across the Tokyo Bay before emerging halfway onto an elevated highway.
We had three laps each on the near-2km circuit with a single 300m straight that goes uphill.
Like a good electric vehicle should, the Outlander PHEV took off quickly with the strong immediate torque the moment we stepped on the accelerator pedal.
Unlike the electric vehicles we had driven so far (including the i-MiEV), there was a distinct whirring sound that pervaded the interior.
This was attributed to the rear electric motor as the noise suppression measures were a bit less but it was easily tolerable.
The other noise that intruded into the passenger cabin was the tyre squeals as we pushed the Outlander PHEV through the many corners of varying curves and tightness, although the drive impression was not meant to be an insight into its handling prowess but its ability to proceed easily on electric power.
It did handle decently and for a tall vehicle, being an SUV, the body roll was nicely controlled for the tight corners.
We had the engine icon appearing briefly as we accelerated up the incline with cones in the middle to serve as a slalom to slow us down for the approaching corner.
There is a Battery Save mode that is recommended for use during highway driving: push the gearshift to B and use the steering paddle shifts to determine the level of regenerative electric generation. There are six levels of charging.
The Outlander PHEV comes well equipped with a power tailgate, big multi-info display, acoustic vehicle alert that emits a sound when pedestrians are detected, Rockford Fosgate premium sound system, to name some.
There is also an electrical outlet in the luggage area with which you can plug your water heater into to make hot drinks during picnics.
There are two charging points: one for home charging (six hours) and a bigger one for quick 30-minute charging (80% electric capacity) at outlets that provide the service.
There are plans to introduce the Outlander PHEV in Malaysia, although it would also depend largely on the Government’s plans to promote clean motoring via tax incentives.
a petrol/electric/ The centre console has
display. power usage
The Outlander PHEV is large and should prove comfortable for long distance drives.
tank of petrol. 900km on a promises
a range of motors combo engine and The 2.0-litre
can be used a socket that The SUV has like an
appliances to power household
here. airpot shown
under charger stored Portable electric the boot floor.