No range anxiety in electric Outlander

No range anxiety in electric Outlander



Mitsubishi took a unique approach to the media launch programme of the Outlander PHEV (plug-in hybrid electric vehicle) last week by taking local motoring scribes on a tour of the wind farm known as West Wind which is operated by Meridian Energy at Makara near Wellington.

Meridian operates 62 turbines at West Wind which it says harnesses enough wind power to generate more than 142 megawatts of electricity, which is enough to power more than 62,000 households on average.

Mitsubishi is convinced that electric vehicles such as the new Outlander PHEV provide the best solution for New Zealand motorists due to our high production of renewable electricity from hydro and wind farms.

The company says it took a leadership position in the New Zealand market with the launch of the all-electric i-Miev and says it will continue to do so with the new Outlander PHEV which can be plugged into any domestic 10 Amp power socket.

According to Mitsubishi when charging off-peak, a full 6.5 hour charge costs about $1.41, so a weekly electric-only commute costs around $7. Owners can use the special smartphone app (VRX model only) to set the car to charge off-peak, or turn on the air con so it’s cooler when getting in, or switch on the lights so the car’s easy to spot at night.

IMG_0256The company says the Outlander PHEV is the first ever to meld electric vehicle technologies with all-wheel-drive capability in an SUV body. Two variants are available locally, the Outlander PHEV XLS from $59,990 plus on road costs and the Outlander PHEV VRX from $66,990 plus on road costs.

The benefit of the Outlander PHEV to the owner, says Mitsubishi, is the environmental performance and quietness of an EV, the stability and handling of a 4WD, and the practicality of an SUV. Plus economy of 1.9L/100km.

At the halfway point in the media drive programme from Wellington to Paekakariki and back, Mitsubishi technical manager Lloyd Robinson checked the fuel economy of the cars being driven by members of the press.

The six Outlander PHEV vehicles presented fuel consumption results from 1.7L/100km to 3.2L/100km, so quite clearly the vehicle can better its official figures, which silenced one or two doubtful motoring journalists.

The car can be plugged into a standard power socket overnight, and owners can commute to work up to 52 km purely in EV mode.

The twin electric motors combined produce 332 Newton metres of torque which Mitsubishi says elevates the PHEV to the mantle of being the performance car of the Outlander range.

It says that range anxiety is also a thing of the past: the 2-litre petrol engine is constantly ready to generate electricity to top up the battery, and add extra power when it’s needed.

The Outlander PHEV has three power sources. Two 60kW electric motors, one driving the front axle and one the rear. Together they contribute more torque (332 Newton metres) than the previous V6 Outlander. This in conjunction with the 2-litre petrol engine, giving 88kW of power at 4500rpm, and ready to turn wheels or generate electricity as required.

The car automatically selects from three drive modes, depending on road and driving conditions, on load, and whether the driver wants to charge the battery.

In EV mode, the car’s in full electric drive. The electric motors drive all wheels, using the drive battery. An overnight charge gives a 52 km range.
In series hybrid mode, the electric motors still power the car, and the petrol engine works with the onboard generator to top up the drive battery: accelerate hard, or climb a hill, and the petrol engine helps by driving the generator.

In parallel hybrid mode, the MIVEC petrol engine (using 91 octane) takes over at higher speeds, when it’s at its most efficient: the electric motors help when extra power’s needed.

Driving the car is very much the same as a traditional automatic. Press the one-touch start button, select D or R using the joystick and accelerate away.

The big difference is this: the car will choose whichever drive mode best suits the driving conditions.

In EV mode the car uses its own motion to charge up the batteries, through regenerative braking. Once the drivers foot leaves the accelerator, the electric motors behave like engine brakes and convert kinetic energy into electricity. Whenever the driver brakes, more energy goes into the battery: which can be seen on the instrument screen.

To save battery energy, press a switch and the petrol engine will be used more often, charging the battery even when the car’s stopped: it takes about 40 minutes to reach 80% capacity when stationary.

According to Mitsubishi 4WD is permanent when driven in either the EV or series mode. With front and rear axles each having their own electric motor, it says there is exceptional four wheel drive traction. The complementary Super All Wheel Control system distributes power and brake force between the four wheels for total stability.

The PHEV has the maximum 5-star European E-NCAP safety rating.

The battery pack is shielded in a framed, rigid sheet metal casing and it’s resistant to debris and bumps from the road.

In the VRX model, two additional automatic systems help keep the vehicle safe in traffic. If a vehicle in front slows down suddenly and the driver doesn’t hit the brake pedal, the forward collision mitigation system does it for them. Working in tandem is adaptive cruise control, which uses radar to match the speed of the vehicle to speed to the vehicle in front, helping to keep a safe distance between the two.

Pedestrians are kept safer too. In EV mode the car’s very quiet, so at low speeds it alerts pedestrians with a gentle alarm.

A 7-inch touch screen shows how the energy flow changes based on the driving mode and the conditions. Drivers can monitor how energy is being consumed and see their ECO score, range and other drive data.

Car and SUV was impressed with the grunt-y performance and the deft handling of the Outlander PHEV over some fairly winding and hilly roads around Wellington, as well as its quiet (at times almost silent) on-road ambience in the cabin. We look forward to an extended test drive of the vehicle very soon and hopefully we’ll better our average fuel economy result of 3.2L/100km.

MY 14.5 Outlander price list (plus ORC):

LS (2WD):
2-litre MIVEC $39,990
2.4-litre Mivec $43,990
2.4-litre MIVEC $47,490
2.2-litre Diesel $49,990

Plug-in hybrid electric vehicle $59,990

2.4-litre MIVEC $54,490
2.2-litre Diesel $56,990

Plug-in hybrid electric vehicle $66,990

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