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Bad News: Mitsubishi Outlander Plug-In Hybrid Delayed Yet Again

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2014 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV

2014 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV

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Those of you holding out for Mitsubishi's Outlander Plug-In Hybrid will have to hold out even longer--as the car's U.S. launch has been put back once again.

The Outlander PHEV is already on sale in Europe, Australia and New Zealand, and has been on the market in Japan for over a year, but a series of small problems has seen its U.S. debut pushed back several months.

The latest delay, reports Automotive News (via Automobile), is down to California regulators requesting the car come with a battery monitoring system. The monitor would conduct diagnostics of the battery pack and alert drivers to any degradation.

Mitsubishi product planning manager Tetsuya Tobe says regulators think that battery degradation "might affect emissions".

That seems a little far-fetched to us. Battery capacity can only affect emissions insofar as a shorter electric range could result in a little more time spent using the 2.0-liter gasoline engine--but a monitoring system won't change that scenario, only alert the driver to it.

MORE: BMW X5 Plug-In Hybrid Prototype: We Drive Future Electric SUV

Nevertheless, it's an oversight the company must correct--and one Mitsubishi has known about since last year.

Fixing the problem could now push the plug-in Outlander's U.S. release back to the last quarter of 2015, or even the first quarter 2016. That's even further beyond the "2015" date proposed after the last battery supply-related delay, and means U.S. customers will get the car three years after its Japanese debut in January 2013.

It could also spell very bad news for the Outlander plug-in's sales potential in the U.S.

Originally, the car was to be one of the first plug-in crossovers available in the U.S. market--getting the jump on several other vehicles still in development.

Now, both Volvo--with its plug-in XC90--and BMW, with the X5 plug-in hybrid, could beat it to the market. Volvo's offering is expected to arrive as early as summer 2015, while BMW is aiming for a late 2015, early 2016 date for the X5.

And while each of these, and the fully-electric Tesla Model X are all likely to cost more than Mitsubishi's offering, they'll all erode any advantage Mitsubishi would have had by getting to the market early.

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