The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV has traveled a few bends in the road on its way to America, but the redesigned crossover is officially headed stateside in the middle of 2016. According to Mitsubishi CEO Osamu Masuko, the plug-in model should sell about 6,000 units in the U.S. in its abbreviated year on the market, Automotive News reports. Though Masuko may be underestimating its potential, that volume would make it the PHEV class leader and an instant hit on the U.S. market.
The head of Mitsubishi was discussing the release of a new compact crossover that would slot in between the Outlander and smaller Outlander Sport, which is the brand’s best-selling model in America. Overall, the automaker has posted 25% gains through October 2015 compared to the previous year’s sales. According to Masuko, 2016 will be another year of gains for Mitsubishi with the Outlander PHEV entering the scene.
Based on the vehicle’s performance in the U.K., there is every reason to believe the plug-in crossover could average 1,000 sales a month in America. Excluding the Chevy Volt, more of an EV with range-extending gas engine, the Ford Fusion Energi (19 miles of electric range) has been the top performer in the class with an average of 775 sales per month in 2015. Yet midsize sedans are not seeing the same growth as crossover SUVs in America.
Depending on the pricing, still several months away from announcement by Mitsubishi, the Outlander PHEV has the potential to eclipse its sales figures abroad. According to EV Sales, Mitsubishi moved 19,754 units in Europe through September of this year, making it the top seller of any plug-in vehicle. Its pace in the U.K. may offer a clue as to what to expect in America at first.
In a market one-seventh the size of America’s, Mitsubishi averaged over 1,000 sales per month through September in the U.K. This concept of a PHEV that covers about three-quarters of trips on electric power (with 20 miles of range) should translate well to regions that are colder than California and other areas where pure EVs are popular.
When the need to travel long distances arises, these vehicles allow drivers to forget range concerns and cover hundreds of miles before filling the gas tank becomes necessary. The formula bodes well for sales in the Northeast and other markets all-electric cars have failed to crack. Quicker charging times also add to the appeal of plug-in hybrids: While an EV may take five hours to charge on a Level 2 power source, a plug-in like the Fusion Energi takes about half that time.
Taking all these factors into account, it’s easy to see why Mitsubishi’s CEO sees 6,000 sales as a reasonable goal for the Outlander PHEV when it arrives in America late spring 2015. Moving beyond that initial rollout, we could see it doing far better if the manufacturing wing can deliver on greater demand. While wider EV adoption requires better infrastructure, the stage is already set for plug-in crossovers.
Source: Automotive News
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