Mitsubishi’s Portfolio To Be 20-Percent Plug-in Cars By 2020

In discussing a multi-year, global plan to resucitate Mitsubishi to profitability and competitiveness, this week the company’s President Osamu Masuko said all-electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles will comprise 20 percent of its product offerings by 2020.

The company already is a pioneer with its Mitsibishi i-MiEV – alternately called simply the “i” and sold in Europe under the Citreon and Peugeot nameplate as well.

And, it is the only company with a plug-in hybrid SUV – the Outlander PHEV – which offers around 30 miles electric range which is close to the Chevy Volt’s range and more than any other PHEV sold in the U.S.

The Outlander PHEV, while selling well in Japan and ramping up in Europe, is delayed in the U.S. until 2015, Mitsubishi says, because it cannot keep up with that demand.

Plug-in vehicle fans can say what they want about the company’s chances of surviving in the U.S., but if anyone wanted an underdog to root for, Mitsu looks like it could be one.

According to a broader story by Automotive News on its entire business plan yesterday, Mitsubishi’s 2020 plug-in vision calls for development of next-generation electric vehicle technology that would offer increased electric range and come in at lower price points.

The company intends to downsize EV components and introduce wireless charging as well, in a very bold and forward-looking bid to have two out of every 10 of its vehicles of the plug-in variety in six years from now.

Earlier this week plans were announced to collaborate with Nissan on a small global car that would be made available in EV form as well.

The initiative would involve sharing of “product assets” between just-as-bullish-on-EVs Nissan.

Masuko said spending on research and development will be boosted by around 30 percent to $812.7 million annually for the next three years.

Of course the plan goes well beyond electrification, and calls also for new models, particularly SUVs.

Presently Mitsubishi’s i-MiEV is an inexpensive and decent car, but is largely overshadowed by Nissan’s Leaf.

Mitsubishi has nonetheless been braver than much-more successful automakers in offering the i-MiEV in all 50 states instead of leaving it as a compliance car.

Should the company be able to sharpen its product offerings as planned, EV advocates should take note that the will to push against odds has long since been demonstrated by Mitsubishi.

How would it do with new funding, a new mandate, and cooperation with Nissan? Could it actually develop more fully competive cars in the next few years?

We shall see.