Mitsubishi isn’t be giving up on the internal-combustion engine any time soon.
The company has committed to electrifying all its cars with either hybrid or plug-in hybrid power by 2035, a move it says will allow it to reduce emissions further than simply forcing electric cars on markets with dirty power and underdeveloped charge networks.
A graph shown by Mitusbishi Motors to Australian journalists shows its modelling for where hybrid (HEV), plug-in hybrid (PHEV), and pure-electric (BEV) vehicles will be most effective for reducing emissions.
According to its research, battery-electric vehicles will only be effective reducing lifetime emissions (production and driving) countries with lots of renewable energy generation such as Europe.
The research includes the environmental cost of accessing the raw materials required for large electric car batteries, shipping them around the world, and actually building those batteries.
Countries such as Japan, Thailand, and Australia with dirtier power are better served with plug-in hybrid vehicles when the emissions associated with charging are considered, according to Mitsubishi.
In markets with the dirtiest power, such as China, Mitsubishi points to Toyota-style hybrids as the cleanest solution.
It’s worth noting these forecasts assume plug-in hybrids are being driven in a way that delivers the best possible fuel economy, in line with their WLTP claims.
The Outlander PHEV, for example, has a claim of 1.5L/100km – but that’s only achievable if owners charge the vehicle regularly.
Without regular charging, the Outlander PHEV has returned figures between 7.0 and 8.0L/100km in our testing, which adjusts the CO2 emissions calculations used by Mitsubishi
For its part, Mitsubishi Motors says reports from Europe about plug-in hybrids drastically missing their emissions claims aren’t as relevant to local owners, who regularly charge their vehicles based on its research.
With a renewed focus on conquering the developing south-east Asian market, rather than the more tech-forward European market, Mitsubishi used this research to inform its decision to focus on PHEV development long beyond when most carmakers intend to be electric-only.
The brand acknowledges it will only be a small corner of the market, but says it is “trying to stand out in the niche market until 2050”.
Although it’s committed to plug-in hybrid and hybrid vehicles, Mitsubishi will release a number of electric vehicles as part of its latest short-term model plan.
Along with two electric cars sourced from its partners in the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance, it intends to release a pure-electric ute based on the Triton’s frame.
It’s part of a plan to offer the right powertrains to the right markets, mirroring the approach of Japanese rival Toyota.
Australian head of sales and marketing at Toyota, Sean Hanley, has been vocal in his support of taking multiple approaches to reduce carbon emissions.
“First of all, Toyota is not opposed to battery electric vehicles. Second is that we believe that to get to carbon neutrality, you have to take everyone on the journey – you have to have a solution for the market you’re operating” Mr Hanley claimed in 2022.
“We believe that you have to have a diverse range of technologies to get there. The point is this: carbon is the enemy here, not the powertrain, right? We are a full supporter of some mandated type of legislation around CO2,” he told media.
“The one thing everybody agrees with is we have to get to a carbon neutral position. Toyota is not arguing the toss on that, that’s not the debate. Even with the most extreme viewpoint, we agree you’ve got to get to carbon neutral.”