au­to­ma­nia was in Ja­pan re­cently to drive the mit­subishi out­lander phev, a plug-in hy­brid.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - NEWS - By LEE PANG SENG au­to­ma­nia@thes­tar.com.my

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.

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