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Mitsubishi Lancer hybrid on the cards for 2014

Softer face: Mitsubishi has previously said the 2014 Lancer – to feature some form of hybrid powertrain – will take on the ‘softer’ design cues of the forthcoming Mirage (pictured).

Cheaper, non plug-in version of Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV drivetrain for next Lancer

Mitsubishi logo14 Dec 2012

By MIKE COSTELLO

MITSUBISHI is set to offer a petrol-electric hybrid drivetrain in the smaller, more curvaceous next-generation Lancer due in the first half of 2014.

The frugal new addition is expected to use a traditional hybrid set-up derived from the bulkier and more complex range-extending plug-in drivetrain from the forthcoming Outlander PHEV due here in mid-2013.

At this week’s launch of the regular Outlander petrol and diesel range, Mitsubishi Motors global C/D-segment project manager Mitsuyoshi Hattori said the Lancer was still at the concept stage, but the company wanted to expand the reach of its new hybrid technology to its passenger range.

Mr Hattori was in charge of the Outlander development and has now moved on to lead the development of the crucial new Lancer.

He hinted that a crossover of technologies between the two vehicles was on the cards.

“I’d like to put the PHEV or other HV (hybrid vehicle) system to other vehicles, maybe the Lancer,” he said.

“The same (plug-in hybrid) system is only for Outlander class, but modified PHEV system can be put in any other vehicle.”

GoAuto understands that this modified system could be a cheaper and lighter traditional hybrid system, using some of the technologies from the PHEV but without the full plug-in capability.

“I think the plug-in hybrid model will be better for the middle and higher class vehicles (such as the Outlander and above) because it's expensive for the small cars,” said Mr Hattori.

"Small cars will be better for EV or the conventional hybrid model.”

The Outlander’s PHEV system, which is similar to that used in the Holden Volt, differs from regular hybrid powertrains like those used in a Toyota Prius. A plug-in system can, as the name suggests, be charged externally via charging point or wall plug, and has a much longer pure EV range.

As reported, the PHEV Outlander will hit Australian showrooms in the middle of next year priced below the $59,990 Holden asks for the Volt.

The plug-in powertrain, in which the back-up petrol engine merely acts as a generator for the electric motor, is capable of more than 880km, consuming as little as 1.6L/100km.

Mitsubishi is also believed to be working on a performance-oriented PHEV system for the all-wheel-drive Lancer Evolution XI road-based rally racer, using technologies from the i-MiEV Evolution EV Pikes Peak racer.

In April 2011, then-Mitsubishi Australia CEO Masahiko Takahashi told GoAuto that every vehicle in the Mitsubishi range – including the Mirage light-car and Triton ute – “will have an electric or plug-in hybrid electric variant by 2015”.

Beyond the next-generation Lancer’s greener underpinnings, Mitsubishi has previously said the new model would be smaller and therefore lighter than the current model, and would apply the new Mirage light car’s softer design language in an attempt to attract more female buyers.

Speaking to media, including GoAuto, at the Australian International Motor Show in October, Mitsubishi Motors global president Osamu Masuko said: “We are aiming to come in mid-way between the old Lancer and the current Lancer in size.” Asked if the new Lancer’s styling was likely to follow in the footsteps of the softer and more conservative Mirage, Mr Masuko said: “I think that would be the case, yes”.

When the next-generation Lancer arrives here in 2014, the current model will be seven years old. Most Japanese vehicles are renewed every five years, but Mitsubishi said the global financial crisis and its weak financial state delayed the development of the new model.

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