It appears that Mitsubishi’s plan to reinvent itself as purveyor of plug-in hybrid and battery-electric sport-utility vehicles has been put on hold.
The Japanese automaker now finds itself in a quagmire because of a Japanese-market fuel-economy manipulation scandal that’s led to a rescue from Nissan Motor Co.
An independent investigation has found “a corporate culture where workers couldn’t push back against management demands and infighting between departments contributed to the matter,” Automotive News is reporting.
Seemingly paralyzed at the moment, we reported last week that the company has once again delayed the U.S. introduction of the long-anticipated Mitsubishi Outlander plug-in hybrid (PHEV) crossover SUV to next summer.
Last expected to get here later this year, this makes the at least fifth time the Outlander PHEV, has been delayed to North America since it was launched in Japan in 2013, and now sold in at least 48 global markets.
The all-wheel drive SUV hit a 100,000 sales milestone last month and is Europe’s top-selling PHEV.
Fully revised for 2016, the Outlander PHEV’s 12-killowatt-hour battery promises enough electric driving range to fill an SUV niche in the U.S. not yet matched in its mid-level price segment.
Mitsubishi is pushing to become a pure SUV player with aims to make electrification a key pillar of future growth.
As part of that growth, the automaker is planning to introduce the Grand Tourer SUV concept at October’s Paris auto show.
Equipped with the company’s plug-in electric hybrid drivetrain, the Grand Tourer is a coupe styled SUV with a narrow greenhouse, muscular fender molding and a steeply raked, sporty fastback rear end.
The question is, now that Nissan is on the path to take a 34 percent controlling interest in the scandal-tainted Mitsubishi, will the Grand Tourer and other future electrified models see production?
So far, Nissan’s $2.28 billion agreement with Mitsubishi calls for shared engineering, powertrains, production facilities and parts purchasing — all of which suggests cuts are on the way.
It’s not known at the moment how Nissan’s stake in Mitsubishi will affect the U.S arrival of the Outlander PHEV or the future production of the Grand Tourer.
What is known is, either or both would be a boost in Mitsubishi’s plan for more electrification.