Going electric is going to be critical, industry officials and analysts agree, if car makers are going to continue to meet consumer demand for ever more powerful products, as well as the ongoing shift from conventional passenger cars to SUVs and crossover-utility vehicles.
Mitsubishi used the 2018 Geneva Motor Show to debut its 2019 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, and that makes sense, because it’s been Europe’s best-selling plug-in hybrid the last three years. This SUV promises to be both more efficient and more powerful thanks to key adjustments throughout the powertrain. It’s also a bit prettier, thanks to adjustments to the headlights and grille.
Instead of relying on a 2.0-liter, Otto-cycle gas engine, the 2019 Outlander PHEV will adopt a 2.4-liter, Atkinson-cycle gas engine. Moving to the Atkinson cycle means the intake valves are held open for a bit longer as the intake stage moves to the combustion stage, which improves combustion efficiency and, therefore, fuel efficiency.
The electrical side of this plug-in hybrid has also been updated. The rear electric motor can output 10 percent more than it used to, and the battery’s output has been boosted by the same percentage. That battery also has 15 percent more capacity than before, which should improve on the current Outlander PHEV’s 22-mile EV range, although Mitsubishi hasn’t mentioned any specific figures yet.
Inside, the mode switch now includes Sport and Snow modes. There’s also a new set of leather front seats, additional HVAC vents for rear passengers as well as new switches and trim.
The new Outlander PHEV hits Europe early this fall, but there’s no word yet on when it will come to the US and Canada. While you’re waiting, check out our live photos from the show floor in Geneva.
China, now the world’s largest auto market, rolled out strict new emissions rules late last year requiring a sharp increase in zero-emissions vehicles — and it may ban internal combustion-powered models entirely. Norway and India have already begun phasing out gas and diesel vehicles, and France, Britain and even Germany are considering similar rules — as is California, one of the world’s largest markets for luxury and performance automobiles. Paris and London are also considering bans in their city centers.
The good news is that battery technology is progressing faster than expected. Prices are falling, range is increasing, and charging times are speeding up. Porsche is looking at well over 300 miles for the Mission E while new charging technology could all but “refill” its batteries in 20 minutes.
That said, sales of electrified vehicles still haven’t made much of a dent in the global market, so manufacturers are hoping that events like the Geneva Motor Show will start to charge up potential buyers.