Plugging In: Mitsubishi Confirms Development of Plug-In Hybrid Vehicle

Mitsubishi may have just launched its U.S.-spec I at last week's Los Angeles Auto Show, but the company's drive to electrification won't stop with microcars. New reports suggest the automaker is pushing a plug-in hybrid SUV into production by 2013.

Yoshikazu Nakamura, Mitsubishi's general manager of global electric vehicles, told Automotive News that the final product will be similar to the PX-MiEV concept shown at the 2009 Tokyo Auto Show. We've no idea just how much of the PX's styling will carry through to the production vehicle, but it's a safe bet the powertrain will be nearly identical. The show car was fitted with a small 1.6-liter I-4, but two electric motors -- one on the front and rear axle, respectively -- provide the majority of propulsion.

In its pure EV mode, Mitsubishi estimated the PX concept could travel roughly 30 miles before calling upon the little four-banger to serve as a generator. Nakamura didn't provide any range estimate for new production vehicle, but noted the PHEV -- which will likely be labeled with Mitsubishi's MiEV (Mitsubishi Innovative Electric Vehicle) moniker -- is in its final stages of development.

We've long heard Mitsubishi wants to move towards adopting common vehicle designs to bolster its portfolios around the world, and the production PX/MiEV plug-in may be the company's first true step towards that endeavor. Nakamura sees the PHEV as a great option for globalization, noting a PHEV is perfect for introducing electric vehicle technology in markets with limited charging infrastructure.

"This is not only for customers in developed countries like Japan, the United States, and in Europe," Nakamura told Automotive News. "The next target might be China or other developing countries like Brazil or India."

Is an Outlander-sized plug-in what Mitsubishi needs here in the U.S? Send your predictions to us through the comments section below.

Source: Automotive News (Subscription required)

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