Exclusive: 2017 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV Postponed To Next Summer

The long-anticipated Mitsubishi Outlander plug-in hybrid was expected later this year but has once again been postponed for the U.S. and Canada.

This is at least the fifth time it’s been delayed to North America since its 2013 Japan-market launch, and speaking for the U.S. market, Alex Fedorak, manager, Public Relations, today confirmed the latest delay.

“Following a thorough evaluation process, we have determined that, in order to meet a level of competitiveness that will exceed customer expectations in the United States, the launch of the Outlander PHEV will be delayed until the summer of 2017,” said Fedorak.

In Canada, John R. Arnone, manager, Public Relations, also confirmed the delay. He said generally Mitsubishi Motors of Canada does get vehicles around the same time as Mitsubishi Motors North America, but declined to state a timeframe.

The all-wheel-drive SUV has been the best-selling PHEV in Europe, and would have filled a price-for-performance niche in the U.S. and Canada.

Mitsubishi has been troubled in recent months with a Japan-market mpg cheating scandal, and its first-quarter operating profits plummeted 75 percent.

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The automaker is already in a weakened market position in the U.S., while in Europe, the Outlander PHEV’s sales slipped to third place during the first half of 2016.

In Japan, sales have been decimated from a consistent level of around 1,000 units per month prior to the mpg scandal to one-quarter that over the past three months. After selling 955 sales in March, Mitsubishi reported 250 in April, 174 in May, and 253 in June.

At present, Mitsubishi is in the process of allying with Nissan. This tie-up is expected to be finalized in October and to begin a new chapter for the beleaguered automaker which still has plans for more electrification.

The Outlander PHEV was fully revised for 2016 and its 12-kWh battery promised enough usable range combined with all-wheel-drive SUV performance to fill a niche no other automaker has yet to fill in its mid-level price segment.

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It is sold in at least 48 global markets but North America has been bypassed despite consumer demand and as upscale Porsche Cayenne, BMW X5, and Volvo XC90 plug-in SUV variants have come to this market.

In all, just 13 plug-in hybrids – mostly front-wheel drive cars – are on sale now in the U.S.

Arnone said when the Outlander PHEV does arrive, it will be the best vehicle it can be in this segment, and indeed its standing as one of the world’s best-selling plug-in electrified vehicles lends credence to that statement.