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Mitsubishi readying Outlander refresh

08/03/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Spy Photos, Crossovers/CUVs, Mitsubishi

Mitsubishi Outlander Refresh

Mitsubishi has a big secret to keep under wraps when it comes to the looks of its refreshed Outlander crossover. Our spy shooters recently caught it testing in Germany, and the CUV had enough buckles, straps and snaps covering up the front end for the vehicle to fit in at an S&M party for cars. The rear was hidden just as thoroughly, too.

Given the areas that Mitsubishi's engineers are obscuring, it seems safe to assume that the Outlander is getting a heavily revised front end with redesigns for the grille, front bumper and possibly hood. The lights might be reshaped too, judging from these photos. The changes are just as hard to spot at the rear, but you can make out the shape of the taillights. They appear more rectangular than the current model, and the bumper looks more angular, as well.

This is likely our first glimpse of the of the major restyle for the Outlander that Mitsubishi execs told Autoblog about in July. The interior is also getting an update to improve interior material quality, we were told. The revisions are supposed to coincide with the launch of the PHEV model in the US at roughly the same time.

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Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV sales reach 33,000 worldwide

07/31/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: EV/Plug-in, Hybrid, Mitsubishi, AutoblogGreen Exclusive, Europe/EU, Japan, Plug In Conference

Plug In 2014: Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV

It can be difficult to see from the US, where the Mitsubishi Outlander Plug-in Hybrid is not yet available, but the all-wheel drive SUV is a big hit in Europe and Japan. In fact, we learned at the Plug In 2014 Conference in San Jose, CA this week that Mitsubishi has sold over 33,000 copies of the PHEV around the world.

The breakdown is that Mitsubishi has delivered 15,000 units in Japan and 18,000 in Europe. Fuminori Kojima, Mitsubishi Motors North America's senior manager of incentives, told AutoblogGreen that the country with the highest sales rate in Europe is Holland, with about 6,000 units sold that thanks in part to generous incentives for plug-in hybrids there. The Euro-spec version on hand in San Jose has three regen levels (the normal D mode, plus B1 and B2). We got to take a spin around the block, but the battery was mostly depleted (it was a popular attraction in the Ride & Drive) and so we were driving on gas.

In the gallery from Plug In 2014, you'll note that the Outlander PHEV requires at least 95 octane (RON) unleaded fuel, which is 91 octane (AKI) premium fuel in the US. We don' know what the US version will need, but we've heard it will be "completely different." The Outlander has a 12-kWh battery and should have an EV range of around 30 miles. Whether or not it will have a CHAdeMO fast-charging port in the US is still undecided, as is the question of whether it will have a 3.3 or 6.6 kW onboard charger.

The timeline Kojima gave for the Outlander's US arrival was October or November of 2015, since the SUV still needs to be tested and homologated for the US, Kojima said, but the real problem is that Mitsubishi can't build enough. "The battery production capacity is limited," he said. "So that's why, [the] first [focus is the] domestic market and Europe showed more demand." As as an example, he mentioned not only the incentives but also said that the charging infrastructure is more built up in Europe. "We'd like to have it [in the US ] as soon as possible, of course," he said.

According to numbers from the European group Transport And Environment (see press release and sales chart below), overall plug-in vehicle sales have been doubling each year since the new breed was introduced in 2010. Last year, almost 50,000 plug-in vehicles were sold in the EU, with the Renault Zoe EV, Outlander PHEV and Volvo V60 Plug-in at the top of the pack.

Continue reading Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV sales reach 33,000 worldwide

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Watch Mitsubishi break the EV record at Pikes Peak

07/09/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Motorsports, Videos, Mitsubishi, Electric, Racing

Greg Tracy Mitsubishi MiEV Evolution III Pikes Peak

Take a listen folks - you're hearing the eventual future of motorsports. This is Greg Tracy and the Mitsubishi MiEV Evolution III as they assault the treacherous course at Pikes Peak in just 9:08.188.

This run is significant for a number of reasons. As we recapped in our Pikes Peak finale post, Tracy's run was a mere two seconds off the best overall time at this year's event, snagging him and Mitsubishi second place overall, as well as first in the Electric Modified class and the fourth fastest time ever recorded. Perhaps more importantly, though, Tracy thoroughly trounced the previous EV record at Pikes Peak, beating the legendary Nobuhiro "Monster" Tajima's 2013 best of 9:46.530.

It's an impressive feat, and now you can experience the whole run from as near a first-person viewpoint as you're going to get. Scroll down and have a look.

Continue reading Watch Mitsubishi break the EV record at Pikes Peak

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Mitsubishi says 2016 Outlander PHEV for US 'will be completely different'

07/08/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Economy, Hybrids/Alternative, Sedans/Saloons, Crossovers/CUVs, Hatchbacks, Mitsubishi

2014 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, front three-quarter view.

While attending the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb with Mitsubishi we got a chance to speak to three Mitsubishi Motors North America (MMNA) executives about the Outlander PHEV, how the brand is strengthening its lineup and how it plans to promote that.

The Outlander PHEV that's quickly and quietly rolling off lots in Japan, Europe and Australia right now is not the same model we're going to get when it arrives in Fall 2015, with MMNA Executive Vice President Don Swearingen and US PR chief Alex Fedorak telling us that "it will be completely different." It can probably be viewed as the next-generation vehicle, part of the "major restyle in 2016" that will reskin the model in the new design language being applied to the brand's crossovers.

Its hybrid system is being tuned for more refinement, and the same work being done on the interior.

Fedorak told us that, "The touchy-feely points we've been getting dinged on" will be upgraded, so expect materials feels and looks less value-oriented. We were told that the battery monitoring software mandated by California regulators doesn't just report on the state of the entire pack but rather it can monitor individual cells. As for when the anticipated hybrid will get here, Fedorak said "probably late November [2015] is my best guess at this time." That's almost two years later than Mitsubishi's previous plans.

We aren't the only ones anxiously waiting for it. Swearingen said he invites 12 to 15 dealers to Mitsubishi's Normal, IL plant every quarter to discuss product and what consumers are looking for. Between that and the five-city tour of MMNA product for dealers, he said the second-most-common question was, "When can we get the Outlander PHEV?" The subject of the most popular question? "Trucks."

Continue reading Mitsubishi says 2016 Outlander PHEV for US 'will be completely different'

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Chrysler de Mexico to sell rebadged Mitsubishi model in shades of Colt deal

07/03/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Car Buying, Economy, Sedans/Saloons, Plants/Manufacturing, Hatchbacks, Chrysler, Mitsubishi, Montreal Auto Show

Mitsubishi G4 Mirage Sedan

Chrysler and Mitsubishi have had a close relationship since the early '70s. Back then, they partnered up to sell the Japanese brand's models under American names as captive imports in the US. Vehicles like the Dodge Colt, Eagle Summit, and eventually the 3000GT/Stealth twins and lots of other cars and trucks became the fruits of that alliance. In fact, the two companies still maintain a good rapport, as evidenced by reports of a new deal to sell the Mitsubishi Attrage, also known the Mirage G4, in Mexico starting in November.

The Attrage is a small, four-door sedan that borrows many of the mechanical bits from the Mitsubishi Mirage hatchback. According to Automotive News, the deal allows Chrysler to sell the model in Mexico for the next five years. The deal could be a win-win for both companies. Mitsubishi gets to use more capacity at its Laem Chabang, Thailand factory where the car is made, and Chrysler gets a new vehicle for a growing market with almost zero development costs. At this time, there's no indication of the new model's name in Mexico, though.

There's also still a chance the Attrage might make it to the US market as well. The automaker showed off the sedan as the Mirage G4 at the 2014 Montreal Motor Show ahead of promised sales in small-car-friendly Canada. The Mirage hatchback was introduced to the US in a similar way, debuting in Canada first and then crossing the border. While reviews for the Mirage have been pretty atrocious, it would still be interesting to see Mitsubishi further expanding its lineup in North America.

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Race Recap: 2014 Pikes Peak Hill Climb

06/30/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Motorsports, Mitsubishi, Porsche, Electric, Racing

2014 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb

The weather didn't interrupt the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb this year, the sun staying out to shine throughout a mildly cloudy day. The crowds didn't interrupt the race, either. Last year there were incidents like the woman who leaned so far into the road that her camera tore a hole in a speeding Shelby Cobra and she had to be sent to the hospital. This year the organizers shrank the number of spectator viewing areas and put others behind fences, such that long stretches of the route were uninhabited by anything other than varmints.

The only unexpected visitor was a dusty track and what some competitors said were slightly higher temperatures that changed the amount of grip and increased times. Yet the calm let a couple of teams, like that sun, break through the clouds of past misfortune and claim victories they'd been targeting for years.

Continue reading Race Recap: 2014 Pikes Peak Hill Climb

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2014 Pikes Peak Hill Climb: Final Practice Day 4 and pre-race notes

06/29/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Motorsports, Sports/GTs, Mitsubishi, Motorcycles, Special/Limited Editions, Electric, Racing

2014 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb

The running order has been established for the 92nd running of the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb for all classes and everyone's had all the practice they're going to get. On Sunday, June 29, the 14,110-foot-high mountain will ask each of them, "Who wants some?" Unlike previous years, while the bikes will run according to class, the cars will run according to their qualifying times set on the bottom section of the course, regardless of division, the fastest guys going first.

That puts Romain Dumas at the head of the 67 car entries, having set a time of 3:37.525 in his Norma M20 RD in the Unlimited Class, but the next Unlimited entry doesn't appear until sixth, Piero Nappi in his Picchio P4 pp with a time of 4:03.357. In between them, the two Mitsubishi MiEV Evolution IIIs start second and third in the Electric Modified class, that first one driven by Greg Tracy 11 seconds behind Dumas. Then comes Monster Tajima is his E-Runner Pikes Peak Special, then Paul Dallenbach leading the Open Wheel class, four positions ahead of the next Open Wheel competitor.

Leaders in the other classes: Michael Skeen driving a Nissan GT-R in the Open class in seventh, 12 positions ahead of the next class entrant; Jeff Zwart in eighth, driving a Porsche 911, will be the first in Time Attack 1, his competition starting right behind him; Robert Prillka in 21st is the first Time Attack 2 entry in a Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, three positions ahead of the next entry; in 23rd is Christopher Lennon in his 1973 Porsche 911 in the Vintage class, the next Vintage entry in 37th; the first Exhibition entrant is Donald Huffman in a Radical RXC in 50th, four positions ahead of the next in-class competition; and representing for Electric Production is Roy Richards in a Honda Fit EV.

Pikes Peak organizers will stream the event, but it requires a paid subscription to watch: $3.95 for one hour of viewing, $9.95 for three hours, $19.95 for unlimited watching and $100 for unlimited viewing and an official program. That feed also contains a cache of archival Pikes Peak footage and interviews. The site BoldRide says it is livestreaming the whole race in partnership with Erix Audio, and that appears to be free. You'll get live timing and results during the race here, and you can follow the Pikes Peak Facebook and Twitter pages for photos and quips. If you do keep up with the feed, you'll find Autoblog behind the wheel of Car #0, a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo, driving the parade lap up the mountain to open the race for the car divisions.

For a few more tidbits on the race and the Mitsubishi MiEV Evolution III, keep reading below.

Continue reading 2014 Pikes Peak Hill Climb: Final Practice Day 4 and pre-race notes

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2014 Pikes Peak Hill Climb: Practice Day 3

06/27/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Motorsports, Time Warp, Coupes, Sports/GTs, Hatchbacks, Honda, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Porsche, Luxury, Racing

2014 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb

Greg Tracy's MiEV Evolution III topped the time sheets almost 14 seconds ahead of third-place Monster Tajima.

On Thursday, qualifying times for six categories were set on the bottom-section switchbacks of Pikes Peak: Electric Modified - near-unlimited showcases of electric-vehicle engineering; Electric Production - electric vehicles "readily available to the public;" Open Wheel - single engine, open wheeled, open cockpit, single seat vehicles; Open - based upon a production or approved-aftermarket-replica vehicle; Exhibition - a prototype or pre-production vehicle limited to one year of eligibility in this class; and Vintage - vehicles and drivelines from 1990 or earlier.

The big story was Greg Tracy in his MiEV Evolution III topping the time sheets almost 14 seconds ahead of third-placed Nobuhiro 'Monster' Tajima, with the second MiEV Evolution III driven by Hiroshi Masuoka about three seconds behind Tracy. The Mitsus also lined up in the first two positions last year with Monster Tajima in third, but Monster was only two seconds behind Tracy in 2013. The times don't mean anything to the mountain, though; everyone expected Mitsubishi to win last year, but rain during their run slowed them and Monster Tajima took the crown.

Roy Richards took pole in Electric Production Class in a 2012 Honda Fit EV, Michael Skeen is atop the Open Class in a 2009 Nissan GT-R, Donald Hoffman leads the Exhibition Class in a Radical RXC and Christopher Lennon is ahead of all the Exhibition runners in a 1973 Porsche 911.

The Open Wheel Class is led by none other than Paul Dallenbach, with three overall wins on Pikes Peak and four more class wins. Dallenbach set a new record in the Time Attack Class last year in a Hyundai Genesis Coupe, and a Production Car World Record in a 2014 Range Rover Sport. This year he's driving a 750-horsepower Dallenbach PV03 that his brother Wally Dallenbach, Jr. used to win the class in 2006 and that Paul drove to a win at the Goodwood Festival in 2007.

In other news, Mike Ryan suffered a big accident in his popular Unlimited-Class Freightliner semi truck, with the rig damaged beyond repair for this year's event. Ryan may yet make a run up the mountain for time, but he'd be doing so on something much smaller - his Triumph motorcycle.

Enjoy the high-res gallery of photos from yesterday's runs, and we'll be back later with the results of today's qualifying.

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2014 Pikes Peak Hill Climb Practice Day 1

06/25/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Motorsports, Mitsubishi, Electric, Racing

2014 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb

This year the big news about the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb is about who isn't showing up. Sebastien Loeb, fresh off his record setting run last year, hasn't bothered coming back (and probably won't unless someone breaks his record). The Millen family is also noticeably absent. Rhys and Rod have been driving here for the past couple of decades but it looks like Rhys is focusing his efforts on Global RallyCross.

Last year Pikes Peak added a fourth practice day on Tuesday to allow drivers to get more time on the mountain. It's an optional practice day, but most drivers show up.

Today, both Time Attack divisions (1 and 2) as well as Unlimited division drove the lower third of the mountain. Pikes Peak Open, Open Wheel, Electric Production, Electric Modified, Exhibition and Vintage all practiced on the middle section, and bikes power sports did the top section.

At the bottom of the hill, Romain Dumas opened up the account marking his third year on the mountain, trying to become the overall champion after narrowly missing out to Rhys Millen two years ago. He was by far the fastest in the Unlimited Division in his 2013 Norma, more than 24 seconds ahead of Piero Nappi in a 2010 Picchio. Also on the lower slopes, Jeff Zwart topped the Time Attack 1 group with the second fastest time of the day overall, putting him 24 seconds ahead of Vincent Beltoise. Of the two men who finished ahead of Zwart last year, Paul Dallenbach has switched to the Open Wheel Challenge class and David Donner isn't racing.

Monster Tajima, former record holder for the mountain, brought his E-Runner out for the third year, and while he won the Electric division last year, he'll have his hands full with the pair of Mitsubishi MiEV Evolution III racecars, both of which ran about 7 seconds faster.

Tomorrow, qualifying will start (the bottom section is used for qualifying), with each of the groups running the same sections of the mountain as today. Meanwhile, you can get ready by checking out the full list of competitors and all of the first day's practice results for the lower section, middle section and upper section. FYI, the latter two groups of competitors aren't sorted by name, only race number, so you'll want to keep that competitor list handy.

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Even Consumer Reports is savaging the Mitsubishi Mirage

06/25/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Economy, Videos, Hatchbacks, Mitsubishi

2014 Mitsubishi Mirage review

When we reviewed the 2014 Mitsubishi Mirage a few months ago, we absolutely hated it. Our conclusion was that if you needed a car in this segment to either pay a few hundred dollars more for a Chevy Spark or spend less for an entry-level Nissan Versa. Basically, avoid this Mitsubishi at all costs. It turns out that we weren't the only ones who despised it. Consumer Reports can often find something positive about just about any vehicle, but even the usually gentle publication struggles to find compliments when it comes to the Mirage.

It's most serious gripe concerns the model's handling. CR describes the way that the Mirage wallows around turns with tons of body lean even at low speeds as "scary." A little car with a curb weight of 2,051 pounds just shouldn't corner this poorly.

While Consumer Reports definitely has no love when it comes to the 2014 Mirage, finding something to dislike about practically every aspect of the vehicle from its powertrain to the interior, the reviewers do end up digging out one positive aspect. You'll have to scroll down and watch the video to find out what it is.

Continue reading Even Consumer Reports is savaging the Mitsubishi Mirage

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