Mitsubishi may have just launched its electrified I microcar around the world, but don't expect the company's push towards vehicle electrification to end there. A Mitsubishi spokesman recently suggested each future Mitsu model will be developed with an electric or plug-in hybrid variant in mind.
"Every new car we develop will also be able to be driven by electricity," (translated) Helmut Bauer, Mitsubishi's German spokesman, told Automobilwoche.
Perhaps the first instance of this will be the company's new crossover. We know such a model, based upon the PX-MiEV concept shown at the 2009 Tokyo Auto Show, is already under development. Automobilwoche suggests the model will be based off the existing Outlander, but sport a hybrid drive system similar to that used in the PX-MiEV concept. As a result, look for the system to pair dual electric motors with a small 1.6-liter I-4, the latter functioning primarily as a generator to extend the PHEV's range. Mitsubishi has confirmed the car is already in the first stages of development, and will launch sometime in 2013.
Another potential candidate for electrification is the venerable Montero sport utility, which is still sold in European and Asian markets, despite being pulled from the U.S. lineup in 2006. Another possibility is the company's new Global Small subcompact -- we can't help but think an electric variant could tangle with the likes of the Nissan Leaf, although it could conflict with the company's own I here in North America.
Another possibility lies with performance cars. Motor Trend reported earlier this year that the company's next-generation Lancer Evolution (the Evo XI, for those keeping score) could possibly adopt a hybrid-electric system similar to that of the PX-MiEV. An electric motor will drive the front wheels, while a turbocharged 2.0-liter I-4 will primarily power the rear axle. Drivers may be able to select a pure EV setting for short, low-speed jaunts, but the entire system could be tuned to give a net output north of the 350 horsepower mark.
Even if a hybrid-electric Evo doesn't pan out, this plan seems like a no-brainer for Mitsubishi. Since the cost of developing new vehicles is tremendously expensive, insuring each new launch is capable of being manufactured with several different powertrain offerings -- electric and hybrid systems included -- may be the best way to leverage limited R&D budgets.