Category Archives: General

After 5 months, production restarts for Outlander PHEV

It’s been almost 5 months since Mitsubishi temporarily cancelled production on the Outlander Plug-in hybrid. In case you don’t remember why, they cancelled production because of 2 cases of the vehicle’s battery pack overheating, and in one case, causing a small fire. Both incidents happened at Japanese dealerships, and no one was hurt.

After a month of investigation, Mitsubishi determined the batteries had become compromised during a screening test process when some of the cells had been dropped. The fall caused damage that lead the batteries to be more susceptible to overheating. 5 months later, Mitsubishi has announced it has come up with a new screening process. Everyone has been trained, equipment has been swapped out, and the production lines are ready to roll.

Now, Mitsubishi has to work through the almost 18,000 order backlog. In September, a second facility will come online and production will double to 4,000 units a month. At that rate, it shouldn’t be too long before Mitsubishi is able to fill all of their orders for the 2014 Outlander PHEV.

Mitsubishi Outlander traction battery

Auto Zeitung of Germany test drives the Outlander PHEV

Titled “The song of a low-emission future”, the 2013 Outlander plug-in hybrid electric vehicle was reviewed by Auto Zeitung. The Outlander PHEV system consists of a 121 horsepower 4 cylinder gasoline engine, coupled with a 70 kw generator. There are 2 electric motors rated at 82kW each – one drives the front wheels and the other drives the rear wheels.

A lithium ion battery pack is located under the floor of the vehicle, and doesn’t take up any cargo space thanks in part to Mitsubishi engineering the new redesigned 2013 Outlander to have a plug-in hybrid option drivetrain right from the start (unlike other gasoline vehicles that are converted, and batteries take up the trunk space).

The Mitsubishi Outlander plug-in is the first mass produced SUV with a plug. It’s also the first all wheel drive plug-in hybrid electric. The front wheels are driven by the gasoline engine and front electric motor, and the rear axle is driven solely by the rear electric motor. Power distribution between the front and rear axles is electronically controlled and allows a power-split of up to 100% to one of the axles. If the driver select off-road mode, then the power split it 50/50.

Due to the extra weight of the battery pack and electric motors, the plug-in hybrid Outlander sits about 30 millimeters lower to the ground than it’s gasoline brothers.

Regen is available in all 3 driving modes, and the intensity of the regeneration is selectable via paddles on the steering wheel. Selecting the most intense regen makes going downhill feel like traditional engine braking in a standard transmission vehicle.

According to the article, the 2013 Outlander PHEV is headed for launch in Europe in the summer, with prices starting at 41,000 €.

Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, i-MiEV production suspended

After 2 fires in Mitsubishi electric vehicles, Mitsubishi has suspended production until the cause of the fires is investigated.

The first fire happened on March 18th, and it was a battery pack of a Mitsubishi i-MiEV that caught on fire at Mitsubishi’s Mizushima factory in Japan. A 98 minute fire was caused by the battery pack overheating – Mitsubishi says it may have been due to a recent change in manufacturing process of the battery supplier. As a result of the fire, Mitsubishi is calling i-MiEV fleet operators whose batteries were made under the same process as those that caused the overheating and led to the fire.

The second fire occurred on March 21 when a battery pack in a Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV overheated at a Yokohama dealership. Mitsubishi says 80 cells within the battery overheated which caused damage in one of the three blocks of cells in the battery and causing the Outlander PHEV not to be able to run. This happened during the first time they fully charged the Outlander PHEV. Mitsubishi is asking owners of the Outlander PHEV to hold off on externally charging their battery packs until a further investigation can be conducted. Mitsubishi says the fire will not delay the launch of the Outlander plug-in hybrid’s launch in North America.

Outlander PHEV details for US version

This week at the New York Auto Show, Mitsubishi revealed more details about the upcoming Outlander PHEV destined for the North American markets.

The updated Outlander is now available in North America, and the plug-in hybrid version will be available in early 2014. The Outlander plug-in hybrid blends the i-MiEV technology with Super All-Wheel Control (from the Lancer Evolution) and the ruggedness and reliability that the Montero and Outlander SUV are known for. It uses an EV based drivetrain that uses a pair of electric motors and is supplemented by a front mounted 2 liter gasoline engine.

One electric motor is placed in the front, the other is in the rear of the vehicle, and each powers its own axle independently for optimal front and rear power split depending on driving needs. Both of these motors are connected to a 12 kWh lithium-ion battery pack that allows the Outlander PHEV to be driven up to 30 miles (in the Japanese spec Outlander on the Japanese test cycle) in pure electric mode.

The lithium-ion battery pack has been sealed in a dust and waterproof case that is located underneath the passenger compartment and between the front and rear axles. Mitsubishi was very careful and specific in making sure the battery pack and the rear electric motor do not protrude into the passenger or cargo areas. The rear electric motor is, however, placed in the space that the optional 3rd row seats would be in if a gasoline Outlander was purchased with the option – that means the Outlander PHEV is a 5 passenger only.

Refer to the diagram below to see the location of the drivetrain components on the 2014 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV.

New Outlander PHEV at the 2013 New York International Auto Show.

New Outlander PHEV at the 2013 New York International Auto Show.

2015 Pajero could get Outlander PHEV plug-in hybrid system

“The Pajero is our flagship,” Mitsubishi Motors head of product and strategy development, Ryugo Nakao.   And soon it will be offered in a plug-in hybrid version.

The Pajero is a large SUV with world wide recognition similar to the Toyota Land Cruiser. It hasn’t been available in North America since 2006, but the redesigned 2015 Pajero may make a re-entry into the US.

At the 2013 Geneva Motor Show, Nakao said the Outlander PHEV’s plug-in hybrid system could be featured in the next generation Pajero and if it is, that would satisfy US customer’s urge for a large SUV that isn’t fuel thirsty.

There is no firm timeline for the next generation timeline, but media outlets seem to think 2015 is likely. Nakao stated the current Pajero must go on for at least 2 or 3 more years – we’re not sure why, but that’s what he said.

Nakao suggest a PHEV of the Pajero would slash consumption and emissions, while simultaneously increasing the performance of the Pajero.

Officially, Nakao only says “Plug-in hybrid is an option,” but the instant success of the Outlander PHEV in Japan, could influence the automaker’s decision when it comes time to pick powertrains for the 2015 Pajero. Japan has around 30,000 orders for the Outlander PHEV.

As Nakao stressed, the Pajero will always be a go-anywhere SUV, so even if it gets the PHEV system, it will remain 4wd capable.