Mitsubishi rolled out the tiny "i" electric minicar (nee i-MiEV) during last week’s 2010 Los Angeles Auto Show, confirming its eventual sale in the fall of 2011.
But all-electric vehicles are just one avenue the Japanese automaker is investigating as it attempts to curb emissions and end the world’s reliance on oil as a fuel source.
Plug-in hybrid technology is another area where Mitsubishi hopes to be a leader. At last year's LA show, it previewed a compact SUV concept powered by an internal combustion engine and a pair of electric motors. The concept was the 2009 Mitsubishi PX-MiEV, which the automaker has now confirmed will enter production in 2013.
The information was revealed by Mitsubishi’s global electric vehicle business chief, Yoshikazu Nakamura, who said the vehicle would be badged a MiEV (Mitsubishi innovative electric vehicle) and would be very similar to the original PX-MiEV concept car.
Mitsubishi’s plug-in hybrid system combines differential electric motors with its Super All Wheel Control (S-AWC) all-wheel drive system and electronically controlled active yaw control. The front and rear wheels are powered by two permanent magnet synchronous motors, while a 1.6-liter four-cylinder MIVEC engine is also used to power the front wheels or act as a generator.
Electronic control systems automatically switch to the optimum drive mode for different driving conditions to extract maximum efficiency from the electric motors and the gasoline engine. All-electric driving range is a reasonable 30 miles, after which the internal combustion engine kicks in and the vehicle acts like a regular hybrid.
[Automotive News (subscription required)]