• Aug 10, 2012
While it's no big surprise, there does seem to be wide disparity between what automakers publicly state about supporting hybrids and electric vehicles, and what they actually deliver. One example is Ford Chairman Bill Ford, who's been evangelizing electrification for Ford's future for a while (see video below and read this for just one example), but then you see the sales figures. Since being launched in January, Ford's first plug-in electric vehicle, the Focus Electric, has only sold 135 units in the U.S. as of July 31. If you include hybrids, Ford's numbers were 17,367 hybrids and EVs, but it's still only a blip on the screen.

Mitsubishi is following a parallel trajectory, with the latest news being the automaker deciding to bring its first hybrid electric vehicle to the market – the Dignity, a luxury hybrid sedan being released first in the Japanese market. The company is taking a cautious approach – one part of that strategy is adding an Infiniti drivetrain. The Dignity is using a long-wheelbase version of the Infiniti M35h, which has a 359-horsepower hybrid drivetrain, coming from a 3.5-liter gasoline V-6 engine paired with an electric motor.

Like its Japan-headquartered competitors, Mitsubishi is a large corporation with its hands in multiple industries – a workforce of 60,000 people in 90 countries serve the automotive, chemical, machinery, and other markets. The brand has been in the U.S. auto market since 1981, but has never achieved impressive sales figures. Mitsubishi has indicated that hybrids and electric vehicles are part of its forward-thinking strategy for market growth. Its plug-in hybrid Outlander is due on the U.S. market in late 2013 or early 2014.

Like Ford and other competitors, production volume, marketing, and dealer distribution have been painfully slow for Mitsubishi. The i (aka i-MiEV in Japan and Europe) has only sold 366 units in the U.S. since its launch at the beginning of this year, with 33 of these EVs sold in July (and now it's being recalled). That's nearly three times the U.S. sales volume of the Ford Focus Electric. So what?



I'm reporting this comment as:

Reported comments and users are reviewed by Autoblog staff 24 hours a day, seven days a week to determine whether they violate Community Guideline. Accounts are penalized for Community Guidelines violations and serious or repeated violations can lead to account termination.


    • 1 Second Ago
  • 23 Comments
      oobflyer
      • 2 Years Ago
      The Coda has a 31 kWh battery pack. The Nissan Leaf - 24 kWh. The Ford Focus - 23 kWh. The iMiev - 16 kWh. The Tesla Model S (base model) ... 40 kWh. It really doesn't seem that the OEMs are serious about making a practical, affordable EV. When they can make an EV that goes 200 (real world) miles on a charge and costs the same as a gas-powered car, then we'll see some real competition. I'm optimistic that this will happen in the near future, meanwhile, we are still in the "early adopter" phase, which is a huge step in the right direction. (I love my LEAF!)
      Spec
      • 2 Years Ago
      It is hard to knock Mitsubishi for being slow on EVs. They've got the i-MiEV out there. No, it hasn't been real successful but at least they put something out there and it is very low price too!
        JakeY
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Spec
        In terms of the world stage, the iMIEV was actually introduced first and reached 10k sales first. It just was later to the US and by the time it got here, the Leaf had already been on sale for a year (and the
      throwback
      • 2 Years Ago
      "..there does seem to be wide disparity between what automakers publicly state about supporting hybrids and electric vehicles, and what they actually deliver" Ford (nor any other car maker) can't make people buy their cars. If they could I'm sure they would be the most profitable company on the planet. The fact is plug in cars aren't selling in volume anywhere in the world. I would think Japan and GB with high gas prices, relatively short commutes would be snapping up EVs.
        Peter
        • 2 Years Ago
        @throwback
        It's an acquired taste for a market that started at 0%. Now at 0.5% of the market means huge growth but its still very low numbers on the road. EV1 taught us that once you get one you are not going to go back easily. And your friends notice how quiet it is. How often do you have to plug it in? They won't buy one in 2 years when their lease is up, but they will cross shop in 5 years, especially if battery prices drop and gas goes up.
        Spec
        • 2 Years Ago
        @throwback
        The weak economy and low gas prices have slowed the EV biz to a crawl. But it is not going away . . . it is still in an infancy phase. The Volt has proven that they they can sell. Yes, the volumes are small but they are not insignificant. They sell more Volts than Corvettes. The EV/PHEV biz will pick up when gas prices spike up again (which they eventually will).
      Roy_H
      • 2 Years Ago
      I think it is a given that EVs would be a roaring success if they had 300 mile range and were cost competitive with ICE versions. All this talk about slow uptake is about $. A Ford Focus EV is about twice the cost of its ICE twin and the ICE version has more luggage space. Very hard to justify even for most ardent greenees. Nissan is selling the LEAF at a loss, they stated that they would not make a profit until they were producing 100k/yr at their Tennese plant. GM and Ford are probably only breaking even and still not making a profit. It is the old chicken and egg problem, batteries will not get cheap untill they build millions of them, but the sales have to be there to justify that investment.
      Roy_H
      • 2 Years Ago
      I think Dignity is a terible name for a car.
      PeekOyle
      • 2 Years Ago
      They have got to get the cost down. Here in Australia we don't have any incentives to buy EV's so they get taxed at the maximum rate so that a iMiev costs $50,000 in AUD here and seeing that we are at parity with the US dollar you can pretty much see where the problem is. Would you guys in the US pay $50k for an iMiev?.... or $60k for a Volt or $52k for a Leaf?
        Marcopolo
        • 2 Years Ago
        @PeekOyle
        PeekOyle For the 4 years your were able to buy an Australian built production EV sedan, did you buy one? Australia builds a wide bodied Toyota Camry Hybrid, did you buy one ? Australia has the largest LPG infrastructure in the world, and sells LPG at 40 % the price of gas. Ford Australia makes an LPG dedicated model built right here in Australia. Do you own one ? Stop waiting for the government to do something, go out and Buy a Camry, or if you must receive taxpayer incentives, buy an LPG, or dual fuel model.
      Letstakeawalk
      • 2 Years Ago
      "Toyota on Wednesday confirmed plans to develop a hydrogen fuel-cell sedan to be sold in the U.S in 2015. On the same day, our spy photographers grabbed these shots of a thinly disguised Lexus HS 250h filling up via hydrogen truck while testing in the Death Valley heat." http://www.insideline.com/toyota/spy-photos-2015-toyota-hydrogen-sedan.html
        DaveMart
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Letstakeawalk
        @LTAW,kris: Check out this massive study on all things transport, including hydrogen and fuel cells, giving infrastructure and deployment costs amongst reams of other info: http://www.npc.org/FTF-80112.html
          krona2k
          • 2 Years Ago
          @DaveMart
          Gotta love those studies!
          DaveMart
          • 2 Years Ago
          @DaveMart
          LTAW: I have spent the best part of a day looking at some of the parts of this, and I still have not got my head around much of it. All of the parts relate to the others, so one has to form some sort of gestalt. There is a lot to absorb. Just for extra fun I came across this today: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-19179419 It's impossible to evaluate as there simply is not enough information, but if the argument is correct that a sustainable 20% of Europe's agricultural waste could substitute for 50% of their gasoline needs, then the resource has a lot more potential than I had assumed. Presumably they are talking about using biogas, as that is about the most efficient way to go, but might be even more efficient if they used fuel cells, but perhaps they already assume that. I doubt it though.
          Letstakeawalk
          • 2 Years Ago
          @DaveMart
          DM: I had read the remarks made by Mr. Brabeck-Letmathe, and I tend to agree with him. I do believe that 2nd-gen biofuels made from crop wastes are a much better idea than using food crops (or land that could be used for food crops). IMHO, the ultimate for biofuel producers isn't selling their product to be burned in a heat engine, but rather to provide a renewable fuel source for a variety of fuel cell types.
          Letstakeawalk
          • 2 Years Ago
          @DaveMart
          Fantastic study - full of great information! Thanks. Hopefully, many ABG readers will take the time to peruse this.
          Marcopolo
          • 2 Years Ago
          @DaveMart
          @ DaveMart Thank you for bringing this immensely valuable, and comprehensive study to everyone's attention.
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Letstakeawalk
        And here's what Toyota is saying about fuel cell vehicles - including the FCV-R - and then about the future of EVs: "Fuel Cell Technology" "The fuel cell vehicle (FCV) is the nearest thing yet to an "ultimate eco-car" that offers solutions to energy and emissions issues. FCVs are powered by fuel cells, which generate electricity from hydrogen, which is not only environmentally friendly and highly energy-efficient, but can also be produced using a variety of readily available raw materials. Thanks to these characteristics, fuel cell vehicles are ideal for achieving sustainable mobility. Therefore, Toyota is striving to make this vehicle technology widely available as soon as possible." There's a picture as well about the actual prototype FCV-R (and now we have even spy shots about its test vehicle, although in a different body). "Another step toward fuel cell vehicle commercialization with TOYOTA FCHV-adv" And the FCHV-adv has a cruising range of 830km (~515 miles) without refueling. http://www.toyota-global.com/innovation/environmental_technology/fuelcell_vehicle/ And now Toyota's own words about the article's topic: "Future of EVs" "In the future, optimally combining diverse energy sources and powertrains, as well as factoring in different combinations of driving needs, will be essential for preserving our environment and intelligently using our limited resources. Among these options, Toyota believes that EVs are ideal for mobility in the short distances of urban areas. Toyota is continuing to research and develop related technologies for better performing batteries, with the ultimate goal of improving the vehicles' quality for future commercialization." http://www.toyota-global.com/innovation/environmental_technology/electric_vehicle/
      Letstakeawalk
      • 2 Years Ago
      Here's another study by the NREL: "National Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle Learning Demonstration Final Report July 2012" http://www.nrel.gov/hydrogen/pdfs/54860.pdf
      John R
      • 2 Years Ago
      So the author claims Mitsubishi is painfully slow with EVs. Not true. They actually have EVs on dealership lots. Right now. The problem is Nissan beat them to it and they get all the media exposure. Even though in some ways Mitsubishi's implementation is better thought-out. Nissan was the first major player to the game and they are getting all the attention.
      mustsvt
      • 2 Years Ago
      I still can't understand AB Green's complete obsession with Ford's electric/hybrid sales volume, especially the Focus electric's low volume which seems to be brought up several times a week. The car is for sale in 3 states and is just ramping up, and even when it is available nation wide what sales figures are expected of it given Leaf sales in the low hundreds per month? The new Fusion will have hybrid models an Ford is launching the C Max hybrid only line as well. Ford is the most commited American company to alternative vehicles. GM "hybrids" are really nothing of the sort and Chrysler is worse than GM in green technology. With a weak economy and pretty low gas prices the demand is not there either. When consumers start opening their wallets for EVs, the automakers will notice.
      • 2 Years Ago
      It seems to me that automakers are (understandably) being very cautious. If they release this new technology too fast - and there are unforeseen problems requiring costly fixes - their liability may be massive. They seem to work with probabilities very well, and moderate their future risk with past experience. But currently their past experience with EV's is minimal - so they release this beast slowly - in order to develop their experience in a controlled way. Hopefully in a few years they will become more confident in the technology - and we will see exponential growth.
    • Load More Comments