Mitsubishi expects to sell only 4,000 Outlander PHEVs in first year in US

April 2016 Launch Date Also Nailed Down

  • Image Credit: Copyright 2014 Sebastian Blanco / AOL

First, it was late 2013 or early 2014. Then it was the fall of 2014. And then it was "roughly" April 2016. Now we can strike "roughly" from the record: the Outlander Plug-In Hybrid will finally arrive in the US in April 2016.

Alex Fedorak, public relations manager, Mitsubishi Motors North America, told AutoblogGreen that the company is now "confident in that date." The various delays that held up the SUV this far – including battery shortages, deciding to make the PHEV in the US the refreshed version and better-than-expected sales in Europe and Japan – have worked their way through the system, he said. "The issue was battery capacity, and the vehicle sold far better in Europe than anyone anticipated. It just takes time to build the battery. You got to buy raw materials and rethink the whole process. We're confident that it's going to be next spring."

As for where the Outlander will go on sale in the US Fedorak said he did not know the initial markets for, but said it was likely the plug-in SUV would mimic the roll-out of the i-MiEV, which is now available in most states. Even with the Outlander PHEV's success overseas, the company does not expect it to be a big seller here. "It's not going to be big percentage of Outlander sales [in the US]," Fedorak said. "Our expectations are in the single-digit percentage of the total Outlander sales. It's just going to be a technology showcase for us, and we'll see what happens. If it takes off for us like it did in Europe, it'll be good news for the brand." Last year, Mistubishi sold 31,054 Outlander Sports and 13,068 Outlanders in the US. That means Mitsubishi expects to sell a maximum of 3,970 Outlander PHEVs (nine percent of 44,122 total Outlander sales) in the plug-in's first year on sale in the US.

Fedorak said he doesn't think there are any specific regulatory issues that need to be solved to bring the Outlander PHEV here. Things like EPA certification and crash testing still need to be done, he said, but that's just part of the normal process now. Fedorak said he thinks there is no difference in the plug-in powertrain from the current version sold in Europe and Japan and the version that will come to the US. But the rest of the 2016 Outlander will be "much more than a facelift," he said (something we've heard before). "It's a total rethink of the chassis and the tuning of the vehicle. The NVH of the vehicle, too."

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Mitsubishi Concept XR-PHEV at the 2014 Geneva Motor Show

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