Mitsubishi: "We Can Compete On Price With Electric Cars"

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2012 Mitsubishi i

2012 Mitsubishi i

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Mitsubishi's sole electric vehicle, the 'i' city car, isn't a vehicle to suit all tastes.

The odd styling, limited range and high price will put off many, but don't discount Mitsubishi just yet--as their electric range is set to grow over the next few years.

The company remains committed to the concept--and even believes it can offer future vehicles at a competitive, affordable price.

Speaking to Car Advice, Mitsubishi Outlander product development manager Mitsuyoshi Hattari says that the firm constantly works to future-proof its electric car technologies.

"We are one of the manufacturers who can produce the electric vehicle at minimum costs,” he said, suggesting that more vehicles are on the way.

One of those is the upcoming Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, based on the new Outlander due soon.

Twin 60-kilowatt electric motors and a 2.0-liter gasoline engine pair with a 12 kilowatt-hour battery pack. Mitsubishi says it's enough for 35 miles of electric range on the Japanese economy cycle, so bank on 20-25 miles in EPA testing.

It also offers drivers the option of all-electric, series hybrid and parallel hybrid drive modes.

The plug-in hybrid isn't the only electric vehicle due from Mitsubishi in the next few years, either. Hattari-san confirmed a plug-in version of the next-generation Lancer. Rumors have also been flying around that the next-generation Mitsubishi Evolution performance car would be a hybrid.

Oddly, Mitsubishi doesn't see pure electrics as necessarily the best choice for smaller vehicles--despite its sole current electric vehicle being a small car.

Vehicles like the Mitsubishi Mirage and Lancer could be better as plug-in series hybrids, says Hattari-san.

Part of the reason is cost, meaning traditionally inexpensive small cars require significantly elevated prices when running on batteries. The 2013 Mitsubishi i costs $30,825 including delivery, pre-incentives.

Mitsubishi is banking on the price of batteries--the most expensive component--dropping over the next few years with increasing demand. And as more people buy electric vehicles, economy of scale improves further in a virtuous circle.

When it does, Mitsubishi will be there waiting with the powertrain technology to exploit it--certainly a company to keep an eye on over the next few years...

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