When people think of Mitsubishi Motors, they tend to think of the wildly outrageous Lancer Evolution or the modest electric i-MiEV. But Mitsubishi has had a few plans in the drawers and the new Renault-Nissan Alliance might just finally help it launch it into high gear. Welcome to the Mitsubishi future, the e-Evolution Concept.
The Mitsubishi e-Evolution Concept Puts You Back In Charge
The Mitsubishi e-Evolution Concept is the company’s vision of a near future that piggybacks on the success of its Outlander PHEV. If the Outlander PHEV is one of the most popular plug-in hybrid crossovers, it is really after all the only one around within that segment. Although it has been a long time in the making, at least here in the US, the company wants to introduce a high-performance crossover SUV, the Mitsubishi e-Evolution Concept.
Hailed as the company’s new “Drive your Ambition,” the strategy reflects what it calls an adventurous and progressive mindset for inspirational design and product. The e-Evolution Concept was shown at the Tokyo Motor Show, and is the second time the company is basing a platform on its EV technology. Sure, the i- MiEV was not designed by Mitsubishi, but its electric drivetrain has been extensively tried and raced.
Although technically only a prototype, it illustrates the strategic direction the company wants to take. With three electric motors, two mounted at the rear and one in the front, the e-Evolution Concept will allow the power dynamics to be used as needed with the wheels. The battery pack is installed in the middle of the car under the floor, which means a low center of gravity. This means it will have great handling and an electric four-wheel-drive system.
What does this remind you of? The best of the EVO and the i-MiEV?
Mitsubishi e-Evolution Concept, Earlier Talks With Officers
Back in 2013, Mitsubishi invited me to cover its Pikes Peak electric race where it was using stock i-MiEV parts on its race car driven by two-time Dakar Rally overall champion Hiroshi Masuoka and Long Beach local Greg Tracy, six-time Pikes Peak motorcycle champion. I was fortunate to have had a few hours on my own in the official pace car, a souped-up Lancer Evolution. As I talked to a few officers about how amazing it would be to have that four-wheel system coupled to an electric drivetrain, many told me they had discussed it previously. But if this was the aim, the company was still in a financial recovery mode. This meant the project never saw the light, perhaps until now, that is.
Since Mitsubishi removed the Lancer Evolution in 2015, this left a gaping hole in its portfolio. The Mirage took care of budget-conscious buyers, although the i-MiEV was still available, it wasn’t outselling any of its other cars. In many ways, the e-Evolution SUV is Mitsubishi’s chance to not only bring back its performance base crowd but to also boldly introduce a high-performance EV. Mitsubishi certainly has the engineering might, and its name is often synonymous with performance and handling, so using its well-earned experience with the electric i-MiEV and the Lancer EVO is a no-brainer.
Artificial Intelligence to Power the e-Evolution Concept
Mitsubishi being Mitsubishi, it wants to use yet another avant-garde EV technology, artificial intelligence (AI). The idea is to offer a connected mobility customer experience, as the company claims. The e-Evolution would use sensors that would adapt to the driver’s driving capacity and match road conditions. It would regulate the car’s performance and also give intelligent feedback to the driver.
We’ve already seen coaching features in electric cars. Picturesque flowery designs telling you how much energy you are using and saving can help drivers, but they also tend to bring out my harshest OCD behavior and eventually ruin an entirely fun drive. Mitsubishi’s use of AI would give the driver pertinent information as well as adjust vehicle’s capacity to almost any weather and road conditions.
Mitsubishi e-Evolution Concept, Are We There Yet?
We might not be there just yet, but the Renault-Nissan Alliance will be the ideal platform to launch its AI and electric drivetrain aspirations. In fact, Mitsubishi announced some of its e-Evolution features would be released in production Renault, Nissan, and Mitsubishi cars within the next few years.
Did you notice that there are no talks of autonomous driving here? We sure did. Perhaps we were right in saying that the Renault-Nissan Alliance would finally give back Mitsubishi’s original wild performance crown. The e-Evolution Concept would certainly marry the best from its Evolution years, the experience it gathered with the all-electric i MiEV and finally wrapped it up as a high-end performance EV meant to be driven but not over the limits. Sounds like Mitsubishi could be back in the game.