The 2012 Paris Motor Show kicks off in a few weeks and Mitsubishi plans to launch the global debut of the new Outlander Plug-in Hybrid. The Outlander PHEV will be the world’s first plug-in hybrid SUV, and according to Mitsubishi it offers the best of three worlds: the environmental performance of an electric vehicle, the cruising range of a conventional internal combustion engine vehicle, and the on- and off-road performance of an SUV.

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The Outlander PHEV is based on the new Outlander. Its plug-in hybrid system is derived from Mitsubishi’s 100% electric technology used on the i-MiEV and other MMC all-electric vehicles. The system pairs a 2.0L four-cylinder engine with two electric motors and a lithium-ion battery. It features three drive modes: EV Drive Mode, Series Hybrid Mode and Parallel Hybrid Mode. In EV Drive Mode the Outlander PHEV’s front and rear motors drive the vehicle using only electricity from the lithium-ion battery. Mitsubishi claims that the Outlander PHEV can drive in EV mode for up to 34 miles.

In Series Hybrid Mode the gasoline engine operates as a generator supplying electricity to the electric motors. The system switches to this mode when the remaining charge in the battery falls below a predetermined level and when more powerful performance is required, such as accelerating to pass a vehicle or climbing a steep gradient such as a slope. In Parallel Hybrid Mode the gasoline engine provides most of the motive power, assisted by the electric motors as required. The system switches to this mode for higher-speed driving when the gasoline engine operates at peak efficiency. Mitsubishi estimates that the total driving range for the Outlander PHEV will be over 545 miles.

The Outlander PHEV will be released first in Japan in early 2013. It hasn’t been announced if Mitsubishi will offer the Outlander PHEV in North America.

+ Mitsubishi