Mitsubishi revealed many details on its PHEV version of its new Outlander SUV during this week’s edition of the New York auto show.
The new Outlander PHEV blends, according to Mitsubishi, the best of the company’s EV technology (i-MiEV), sure-footed Super All-Wheel Control (derived from the esteemed S-AWC system found in the legendary Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution) and the capable, rugged and reliable Montero and Outlander SUV lineage into the world’s first plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) SUV with all-wheel drive.
The vehicle relies on an EV-based architecture that utilizes a pair of advanced electric motors supplemented by a front-mounted 2.0-liter gasoline engine.
Both 60 kilowatt electric motors are placed at the front and rear of the vehicle; each motor drives its own axle independently for optimal front/rear torque split; these are linked to a12 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion Drive battery pack.
In pure electric vehicle (EV) driving mode, the range is estimated at 30 miles (Japan-spec Outlander PHEV).
The Outlander PHEV relies on three distinct driving modes:EV Drive Mode, Series Hybrid, or Parallel Hybrid.
The 4B11 2.0-liter inline-4 has been fitted with the Mitsubishi Innovative Valve timing Electronic Control system (MIVEC) to maximize power production, improve fuel efficiency and reduce exhaust emissions by continuously varying the timing of the intake valves according to engine speed when it operates in Parallel Hybrid mode (the engine functions solely to generate electricity in Series Hybrid mode and is mainly used to provide motive force in Parallel Hybrid mode).
The Outlander PHEV’s exhaust note has been reduced and the engine compartment’s soundproofing has been increased in order for the vehicle to remain as quiet as possible when operating in pure EV Drive Mode (even when the engine is in use to charge the lithium-ion Drive battery pack).
Located on the left side of the Engine (positioned transaxle-style), the Front Motor is a smaller, lighter and higher output version of the permanent magnet synchronous electric motor used in the Mitsubishi i-MiEV.
In Series/Parallel drive modes, the generator produces electricity from the engine and stores it in the lithium-ion Drive battery pack
The lithium-ion battery pack is located in a dust- and waterproof encasement positioned beneath the passenger compartment subfloor and between the front and rear axles (with no intrusion into the passenger compartment whatsoever). It consists of 80 cells configured in series, with a total voltage measuring 300V and a total storage capacity of 12 kilowatt-hour.
Placed beneath rear cargo area subfloor (does not intrude/diminish cargo area capacity above), the rear electric motor produces slightly more torque than the front one.
Both the front and rear transaxles each incorporate a simple single-speed fixed reduction gear. The front axle features a built-in clutch that switches the system to Parallel drive mode mainly for engine-powered travel at high speeds/steady-state cruise.
During deceleration (braking), the front and rear electric motors function as generators so that electricity can be generated and fed back into the lithium-ion battery pack.
Because of its unique drivetrain that combines a front electric motor + rear electric motor + front-mounted gasoline-powered 2.0-liter engine + generator, the new Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV automatically selects one of three drivetrain modes for optimal performance and efficiency.
In EV drive mode (Twin Motor 4WD EV), the vehicle is driven in a very eco-friendly performance mode by the two electric motors, with energy being supplied exclusively by the lithium-ion Drive battery pack (100% electric-powered, zero-emission vehicle).
The Outlander will switch to series hybrid (Twin Motor 4WD EV with Internal Combustion Generator) when the energy level remaining in the lithium-ion Drive battery pack is low or when the need arises for a sudden and/or additional degree of acceleration, In this mode the two electric motors are powered by the battery pack and the gasoline-powered generator.
The vehicle can also switch to parallel hybrid mode(Gasoline-Powered Engine Supported by Twin Motor 4WD). In this drive mode, the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV uses its full complement of available resources:
1) The 2.0-liter gasoline engine drives the front wheels; the front axle features a built-in clutch that switches the system to Parallel drive mode mainly for engine-powered travel at high speeds/steady-state cruise.
2) The two electric motors positioned at the front and rear of the vehicle operate seamlessly when additional power is required (such as driving uphill)
3) The gasoline-powered engine/generator – while operating the vehicle at sufficient speed – will feed any excess energy (electricity) back into the lithium-ion Drive battery pack
The Parallel Hybrid mode is, per Mitsubishi, most commonly utilized when the Outlander PHEV is being driven in a long-haul/high-speed steady-state cruise manner such as on the open road or interstate. This is the most efficient drivetrain mode under these types of driving circumstances.
Additionally, there are three driver selected modes:
The Outlander PHEV features a driver-activated “ECO Mode” switch that reduces both fuel and electricity usage for increased efficiency simply with the touch of the button.
Battery Save Mode
In this driver-activated mode, the Outlander PHEV automatically conserves the energy within the lithium-ion Drive battery pack by operating the vehicle in hybrid mode (Note: Battery Save Mode will only operate once the lithium-ion Drive battery pack’s energy level falls below 90% full).
For example, engaging the Battery Save Mode would allow the vehicle to be driven in urban traffic with the engine/generator on to maintain a higher level of battery charge; it could then be deactivated, allowing the vehicle to be driven through a neighborhood silently at an appropriate speed in EV Drive Mode.
Battery Charge Mode
When activating the Battery Charge Mode – whether the vehicle is in motion or at a standstill – the engine will generate electricity to be fed into the lithium-ion Drive battery pack (essentially forcing the vehicle to operate in Series Hybrid mode)
For example, if the engine is idling and the vehicle is not moving, selecting the Battery Charge Mode will replenish a low energy level within the lithium-ion Drive battery pack back up to 80% fully charged in approximately 40 minutes.