With a long-standing tradition of pioneering technologies and a presence in 160+ world markets, Mitsubishi Motors Corporation (MMC) is very well equipped to embrace the structural re-shaping affecting the global auto industry, whether geographical or environmental.
From the specific demands of the newly emerging markets (affordable, robust yet contemporary vehicles) to the renewed interest of mature areas (down-sized / lighter / more fuel-efficient automobiles), MMC has pragmatically committed its engineering resources to satisfy these new needs, as highlighted in its “Jump 2013” business plan with clear targets (20% of EVs and PHEVs by 2020).
Covering a wide spectrum, MMC R&D is engaged in a multitude of alternative solutions such as:
■Global platforms: ■B-Segment Global Small (Mirage).
■C/D-Segment Project Global (ASX / New Outlander).
■Downsizing: ■Taking the Outlander crossover concept one notch below with the C-Segment ASX.
■Returning to the roots of the B-Segment with the clever 3710 mm long Mirage.
■Weight reduction: ■Significant gains in all areas for the quieter, safer and better equipped New Outlander (about -100 kg max.) or Mirage (about – 120 kg vs. Colt)
■Fuel economy / Lower emissions: ■“Auto Stop & Go” made available to a wider range of models and power-trains.
■Continuing refinement of MMC’s own highly efficient 4N13/4N14 Clean Diesel engines.
■Further development of petrol engine architecture (New MIVEC engines available with New Outlander / Mirage).
■Alternative power-trains: ■Expansion of the Mitsubishi range of EVs.
■Introduction of Mitsubishi’s EV-based Plug-in Hybrid technology (New Outlander).
With this in mind, Mitsubishi Motors is committed to explore the new frontiers that will allow electric vehicles (EVs) to venture beyond urban areas, building upon 40+ years of EV R&D dating back to 1966.
This far-reaching outlook includes mid- to long-term R&D of electric vehicle architecture, power-trains, batteries and systems.
After i-MiEV in 2009, the next manifestation of MMC’s engineering prowess is the EV-based plug-in hybrid (PHEV) version of the New Outlander: Outlander PHEV - a blend of what MMC is well-known for:
■SUV technology ó Pajero
■4WD technology ó Lancer Evolution
■EV technology ó i-MiEV
Unveiled last September at the Paris Motor Show and retailed in Japan since January, Outlander PHEV will be launched in Europe from the summer of this year:
■The first mainstream car from a major manufacturer developed from the outset with built-in provisions for either ICE or PHEV power-trains.
■Similar interior and cargo space as Outlander ICE (463 l or a decrease of only 14 litres - 5-seater).
■EV-based architecture: ■At the front:
■2.0 liter (87 kW) petrol engine
■60 kW electric motor + inverter – 137 Nm
■70 kW generator ■In the middle, under the floor:
■12 kWh, 80 cells, Lithium-Ion battery pack ■At the rear:
■60 kW electric motor + inverter – 195 Nm
■No gearbox (as for EVs).
■Front wheels driven by petrol engine through gear train (when in Parallel Hybrid Mode).
■Permanent electric 4WD (“Twin-motor 4WD“) w/ each motor driving its own axle independently for optimal Fr/Rr torque split.
■Lancer Evolution-derived S-AWC (“Super All Wheel Control“) for smooth, seamless driving and increased active safety.
■Low centre of gravity and excellent Fr/Rr weight distribution (55% - 45%).
■Towing capacity of ± 1,500 kg
■Automatic selection of Drive Modes, all engaged alternatively according to driving conditions – i.e. not sequentially: ■Pure EV
■Multiple charging possibilities : ■Plug-in normal charging (4 hours for a full charge - 240V – 15 A).
■Plug-in normal quick (30 mn for to 80% charge – CHAdeMO standard).
■On the go in Series and Parallel Hybrid modes.
■Through Regenerative Braking.
■« Battery Charge Mode » – autonomous charging through the petrol engine when no power source is available (e.g. outdoors).
■In addition, Outlander PHEV also features: ■« Battery Save Mode» – switch on the centre console.
■« B – Mode» w/paddles, to increase regenerative breaking.
■WiFi charging monitoring through Smartphone.
■Minimum impact: ■44 g/km – tailpipe CO2 emissions.
■1.9 l/100 km.
■Maximum usability : ■52 km of range / over 120 km/h (where legal) in Pure EV Mode.
■897 km of total range (as per Japan’s JC08 mode)
Neither a mere adaptation of an existing Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) vehicle, nor a dedicated Plug-in Hybrid EV technology showcase, the New Outlander PHEV is rather a further variant of New Outlander – next to the petrol or Diesel ICE options - and developed as such from the start of the programme.
An engineering feat that makes New Outlander the first mainstream car from a major manufacturer envisaged from the outset with built-in provisions for either ICE or PHEV powertrains.
After materialising its own 40+ years of EV development first with i-MiEV in 2009 (followed by « K-car » class electric LCVs for the Japanese domestic market), MMC decided to set it sight on larger electric vehicles, suitable for long distance driving with a full party of passenger and their luggage.
An objective of MMC’s « Jump 2013 » business plan - with an extensive range of EVs and PHEVs to be launched by 2015 – these more ambitious automobiles were meant to take stock of the limitations of today’s batteries – namely range to bring EVs to the mainstream. Hence came MMC’s Plug-in Hybrid technology - EV-based and 4WD.
As a result, the New Outlander PHEV does distinguish itself:
■Mitsubishi Motors’ first Plug-in Hybrid car, it is an EV-based vehicle, relying on MMC’s extensive EV and electronic know-how, supplemented by a petrol engine when needed.
■Making the best use of Mitsubishi’s renowned 4-Wheel-Drive expertise, it is also the first permanent 4WD electric passenger car in series production from a mainstream manufacturer.
■Last but not least, developed within the extensive New Outlander family, it suffers none of the shortcomings of simple(r) adaptations, esp. intrusion of added EV components.
A Further Choice
To put things into perspective, today’s hybrids fall into the following categories:
■2WD Series hybrids (front ICE + front motor)
■4WD Series hybrids (front ICE + rear motor)
■2WD Series / Parallel hybrids (front ICE + front motor)
■4WD Series / Parallel hybrids (front ICE + front motor + rear motor)
■2WD Plug-in Series / Parallel hybrids (front ICE + front motor + charging abilities)
■4WD Plug-in Series / Parallel hybrid (front ICE + rear motor + charging abilities)
With Outlander PHEV, Mitsubishi Motors now adds to these categories a Twin-Motor Series / Parallel Plug-in hybrid (i.e: front ICE + front motor + rear motor + charging abilities). This with an architecture specific to EVs rather than that of ICE-based vehicles as well as the convenience & versatility of a crossover/SUV:
Taking some of its cues from the Mitsubishi i-MiEV textbook, Outlander PHEV can boast a no-compromise EV-specific architecture.
In that sense, it does away with the traditional format of engine + gearbox + final drive for a « purer » layout of (front to rear):
■Front engine: 2.0 l (87 kW) petrol, located on the right side of the same engine compartment as New Outlander ICE.
■Front (60 kW) motor + (70 kW) inverter + generator: located on the left side of the engine compartment with the engine, transaxle style.
■Drive battery pack: stored (safely) under floor within the wheelbase not to affect interior space.
■Rear (60kW) motor + inverter: located under floor not to intrude in the cargo area.
De facto, this innovative layout does feature neither conventional gearbox nor driveshaft, the system being electronically-controlled whilst the petrol engine activates the front wheels (in Parallel Hybrid Mode) through a gear train.
Moreover, Outlander PHEV’s primary motive force comes from the front and rear electric motors as in a 100% EV permanent 4WD vehicle:
■Mitsubishi Motors’ PHEV system uses a newly developed twin-motor four-wheel-drive system mated to Mitsubishi's S-AWC (“Super All Wheel Control”). Based on the four-wheel-drive technology developed and honed in the Lancer Evolution, S-AWC it integrates control of the 4WD, ASC and ABS systems. Working in tandem with the PHEV system.
■The two motors drive the front and rear axles independently. Being virtually lag-free and offering superior control, the motors ensure finer more precise control of the 4WD system. The Twin Motor 4WD system does away with the propeller shaft, hydraulic system and clutch plate used to connect the front and rear axles in conventional 4WD systems.
■In addition to the obvious active safety of such a sophisticated 4WD drivetrain, the Mitsubishi PHEV system gives the 100% instant off-the-line torque inherent to electric motors - with acceleration comparable to that of a 3.0-liter V6 engine - while its twin electric motor will guarantee the smooth progression required in difficult wintery driving conditions.
■As for charging, Outlander PHEV can be plugged to any electric outlet the same way as with i-MiEV, with a charging time of 4 hours for a full charge (240V – 15A) or 30 mn with a quick charger – CHAdeMO standard) to extend its Pure EV range for all daily commuting duties. Furthermore:
■The driver can also switch to a “Battery Charge Mode”– self-charging through the petrol engine when no power source is available (e.g. outdoors).
■When the driver applies the brakes, the front and rear motors act as generators recovering kinetic energy and using it to charge the drive battery.
Last but not least, just as for i-MiEV, electronic play a vital role in making PHEV technology a daily reality through a further development of MMC’s acclaimed electronic operating system – the brain behind.
The operating system gathers data and information from all the major EV components to provide integrated management of the car’s performance. This advanced management system constantly monitors battery status and the energy recovered from the regenerative brakes while regulating output to ensure smooth and powerful acceleration from a full stop. As a result the system optimises and minimises energy consumption to deliver the most appropriate actual on-road performance.
Outlander PHEV applies further advanced system from the integrated management system for MiEV series, including a function for the plug-in system. It controls not only battery and motors, but also engine and generator. The operation system automatically selects three driving modes (EV, Series, and Parallel) according to the battery level and driving conditions, enhancing driving performance and fuel economy.
As a result, the New Outlander PHEV unique drivetrain combination of front electric motor + rear electric motor + front petrol engine + generator translates into a choice of three driving modes, all engaged alternatively according to driving conditions i.e. not sequentially:
■Pure EV (Twin Motor 4WD EV)
■The car is driven by the two electric motors, the energy being supplied from the drive battery pack.
■With a top speed of over 120 km/h (where legal) and a range of 52 km, Outlander PHEV can fulfil daily family duties with the lowest possible impact (44 g/km – EU standard).
■Series Hybrid (Twin Motor 4WD EV supported by generator)
■Beyond that speed of 120 km/h or when more power is needed (sudden acceleration) or below a certain level of charge (30 %), the Series Hybrid Mode is automatically engaged.
■The petrol engine then kicks in to power the generator, to re-charge the traction battery, with the ability to return to Pure EV Mode as the system is biased to go back to full electric as often as possible. ■Parallel Hybrid (petrol engine supported by Twin Motor 4WD) :
■Outlander PHEV now uses its resources to the full for the open road:
■Petrol engine driving the front wheels through a clutch,
■Twin electric motors supporting seamlessly at the front and the rear.
■Generator distributing additional torque which comes out to enhance engine efficiency, and saving the electricity of the drive battery.
■As for the Series Hybrid Mode, the system will automatically return to either Series Hybrid or even Pure EV Mode when Parallel Hybrid is no longer needed.
Sharing the same wind-tunnel honed body as well as the same thorough efforts made by MMC R&D to reduce the overall level of NVH as its New Outlander ICE-powered cousins, Outlander PHEV adds obviously the quietness of an electric vehicle in Pure EV mode.
The story continues though in Series Hybrid and Parallel Hybrid modes with a fine management of the powertrain meant to minimise the use of the petrol engine or if required, with a strict control of its speed.
Outlander PHEV’s smooth driving experience is further enhanced by the inherent seamless nature of its electronically-controlled accelerations, without any sort of gear shift shock.
Much appreciated as well over long distances (over 880 km range/ 500 miles), Outlander PHEV adds to the dynamic qualities of the New Outlander family with its low centre of gravity and an even more stable and comfortable ride – the location of the drive battery under floor within the wheelbase playing an important role here – as well as an excellent weight Fr/Rr weight distribution of 55% - 45%.
The most elevated member of the New Outlander family, Outlander PHEV remains nonetheless an Outlander with only – on purpose - a modicum of visual changes, whether exterior (new « Technical Silver » launch colour, specific front grille, LED rear lights, 18 inch alloy wheels, monotone colour-keyed bumpers) or interior (unique accent panel, high contrast meter with power meter, joy stick-type shift knob)
The driver-friendliness is further enhanced by real-life dimensions & capacities:
■463 l of cargo volume (vs. 477l) so a decrease of only 14 liters
■Trunk floor higher by only 19 mm
■Rear passenger floor higher by only 45 mm
■Same ground clearance as Outlander 2,2 Di-D
■Additional mass of ± 300 kg to ± 1800 kg
■Towing capacity of ± 1,500 kg