Over dinner during last week's media launch of the new Mitsubishi Outlander, representatives of Mitsubishi Motors New Zealand floored attending journalists with a fascinating pronouncement - the company intends launching the Outlander PHEV plug-in hybrid next year, and it aims for the pricing to be around $60,000.
That price would put the vehicle within just $3000 of the top version of the standard petrol and diesel-powered Outlander range, and make it way bigger value for money than other electric product already on the New Zealand market.
For example, Mitsubishi's tiny little i-MiEV hatch retails for $59,990, and the recently launched four-seater Holden Volt liftback carries an $85,000 pricetag.
So $60,000 for a full-sized five-seater SUV, with all-wheel drive and the ability to tow up to 1600 kg, is potentially the sort of pricing that would allow this Outlander to make a big impact on this country's market.
The MMNZ people reckon that if they can import the PHEV at that price, it could sell at a rate of 20 to 30 a month, or more than 20 per cent of all Outlander sales.
Of course, at that price, it wouldn't have the luxury and specification of the top VRX versions of the petrol and diesel Outlanders, but it would have far and away the best average fuel consumption - just 1.6 litres per 100 kilometres.
The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV teams a 70kW 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine with a 12kWh lithium-ion battery and two electric motors: a 60kW/137Nm motor on the front axle and a 60kW/195Nm motor at the rear.
It will be able to be operated in any of three modes.
One mode will be as an all-electric vehicle, with the front and rear electric motors driving the Outlander using battery power only. The second mode will be as a series hybrid, with the petrol engine working as a generator to supply electricity to the motors. The third mode will be as a parallel hybrid, where the petrol engine will provide most of the motive power and will be assisted by the electric motors as required.
Mitsubishi says a full charge from an ordinary household power source will take around four-and-a-half hours, and will provide an electric-only cruising range of roughly 55km.
Operating on a full charge and a full 45-litre tank of fuel, the Outlander PHEV will have a range of around 880km.
MMNZ is hoping to get the Outlander PHEV to New Zealand in June or July.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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