It’s elec­tri­fy­ing ...

El­e­ment edi­tor James Rus­sell took the brand new Mit­subishi Out­lander Plug-In Elec­tric Hy­brid for a test drive, and liked what he saw.

Element - - The Blue Economy -

The best thing about test driv­ing an elec­tric ve­hi­cle is imag­in­ing the pos­si­bil­i­ties. The most ob­vi­ous one that springs to mind about the Out­lander is that the de­press­ing weekly trip to the ser­vice sta­tion for $100+ worth of cli­mate de­stroy­ing fos­sil fu­els could be dis­pensed with.

I have to ad­mit, I was also ex­cited about the pos­si­bil­ity that, when smugly asked by a Mike Hosk­ing/Leighton Smith cli­mate-change-deny­ing type whether or not I drive a car to get around, I could smugly an­swer ‘yes – an elec­tric one’.

Just re­cently I had 2.8kW of so­lar panels fit­ted to my roof – you have to prac­tise what you preach. But it brought up another pos­si­bil­ity – that pro­vided I stayed un­der the Mit­subishi Plug-In Hy­brid’s (PHEV) 52km elec­tric range be­fore the petrol mo­tor kicked in, and plugged the car in while the sun was shin­ing, then mo­tor­ing would be es­sen­tially free. Only 1kW of my to­tal ar­ray was ded­i­cated to charg­ing the car when the sun was shin­ing.

It all brings up the pos­si­bil­ity of a pretty smart fu­ture, where so­lar panels on busi­nesses and homes are charg­ing ve­hi­cles while their own­ers work or re­lax at home. When you con­sider that three quar­ters of the $9b worth of fuel used in this coun­try is for pri­vate ve­hi­cles it rep­re­sents not only a colos­sal fi­nan­cial boost, but a sig­nif­i­cant step to­wards New Zealand’s en­ergy re­silience. The way the bio­fu­els in­dus­try is pro­gress­ing, it’s en­tirely fea­si­ble the rest of the coun­try’s liq­uid fu­els could come from net-zero emis­sions sources with­out the need for Mr Bridges to hand out any deep sea drilling per­mits.

The brand new Mitsi PHEV has an an­nual run­ning elec­tric­ity cost of $364, an an­nual fuel cost of $280 and will travel 100 kilo­me­tres on 1.9 litres of fuel. For a car which still has an en­gine in it, these are un­heard-of fig­ures. It’s also telling that elec­tric­ity will cost more than fuel, de­spite the rel­a­tively small range.

I’m afraid than other than be­ing able to safely reach its des­ti­na­tion, the way a ve­hi­cle han­dles means lit­tle to me, and in at­tempt­ing to de­scribe it I would only em­bar­rass my­self. Here’s how Her­ald re­viewer Damien O’Car­rol re­views its per­for­mance: “It weighs more than a stan­dard Out­lander, but with all that weight down in the driv­e­train it ac­tu­ally im­proves the Out­lander’s han­dling. The ex­tra weight also im­proves the feel of the Out­lander on the road.

“The brand new Mitsi PHEV has an an­nual run­ning elec­tric­ity cost of $364, an an­nual fuel cost of $280 and will travel 100 kilo­me­tres on 1.9 litres of fuel.”

The ex­tra grunt from the elec­tric mo­tors is felt as well, with Mit­subishi’s claim that the PHEV is also the per­for­mance model of the Out­lander range cer­tainly hold­ing true on the road.” Box ticked there, then. Also wor­thy of note here is that the Mit­subishi PHEV doesn’t economise on space and prac­ti­cal­ity like some of its e-com­peti­tors. It’s a large, roomy ve­hi­cle, which feels solid and safe on the road. It will take a hoard of chil­dren, bikes, bug­gies and what­ever else you throw at it. It seems its bat­ter­ies haven’t com­pro­mised any­thing – prob­a­bly be­cause there’s not many of them. It’s the fu­ture of cars – at least for the next decade any­way – be­fore the Out­lander all-elec­tric ar­rives.

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