What is a house doing at a motor show? It is not the first house we’ve seen on a show floor. Renault has a habit of showing houses. Those are around the electric concepts of their future visions — cars as part of your interior.
Not so at Mitsubishi. This “Dendo Drive House” is a normal modern house, all energy use is electric, it has a grid connection, and it has ordinary-looking rooms populated by mannequins looking like people you could meet on the street today. What makes it special is that it is the latest example of V2H technology. It integrates the EV with the home storage, solar PV generation, and electric consumption systems of the house. It is valuable as a smart grid and charging solution, and as a backup solution in areas with a less stable grid.
In a suburb, in the middle of nowhere, on an island, with a group of these in a microgrid you have solid energy infrastructure for your place. Over 10 years ago, when the first modern electric cars started emerging, I was laughed at because I stated that in the future an electric car should have two states: driving on the road, or parked and connected to the grid. With the current emergence of V2G and V2H systems, the world is evolving to my far-out vision from long ago. We live in interesting times. Stay tuned for more V2X news.
Of course, there are also cars on the Mitsubishi stand. It is a motor show, after all.
The most important is the new concept ENGELBERG TOURER, an SUV with an integrated roof box. The concept moniker has to be taken with a grain of salt. This is so close to a production model that the only concept aspect is the lack of a production decision, if I interpreted the sounds from the people on the stand right.
Its drivetrain is the next generation of the Outlander drivetrain: two electric motors powered by a 20kWh battery, an internal combustion engine that can work in four modes — series hybrid, parallel hybrid, normal ICE driving, and generator mode. What exactly is the difference between series hybrid and generator mode is not clear to this non-technical person.
While the drivetrain is the next generation from the Outlander drivetrain, this is not the next-generation Outlander. With its 7 seats and ample luggage space, it is clearly in a larger class of cars. It appears also both more rugged and more luxurious, but that could be motor show veneer. When you see it, the immediate association is “outdoor sports.” It is an SUV with a capital S. The Outlander gives a more working impression, a real utility vehicle.
Stealing some lines from the marketing material:
Mitsubishi Engelberg Tourer is a Twin Motor 4WD plug-in hybrid EV (PHEV). The body styling gives expression to the powerfulness and reliability that allows it to negotiate any kind of road. It offers high levels of running performance that allow the driver to enjoy driving in any weather condition or on any road surface with confidence. It combines this with the long cruising range inherent to the PHEV and that allows journeys out of town to places with no charging infrastructure.
The interior offers generous cabin space that allows several passengers to enjoy the journey in comfort, and features levels of quality and functionality that are marked by a loving attention to detail. The excellent packaging combines passenger capacity with a variety of storage space to allow family and friends to spend a satisfying time on the way to their destination.
Features adding to its qualities as an SUV for a more active type of lifestyle include fog lamps fitted to an auto-open/close roof box and under guards for front and rear bumpers.
There was more on the stand.
The first that intrigued me was the i-MiEV. With its age, it should be at EOL (End Of Life), but with continuing demand and no successor, it is still in production. Replacing it with a successor on the Twingo/Smart platform is not really an option. That technology is not much younger. The coming CMF-EV Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance platform is too big for an i-MiEV successor. What then?
Mitsubishi manager: “Yep, that is the right question.” (I hate that answer)
With Honda thinking that the i-MiEV formula is the right one for BEVs and creating a lot of buzz, we can expect this car and its rebadged sisters, the Peugeot iOn and Citroen C-Zero, to be around a bit longer.
Between this car and the Outlander, charging the Dendo Drive Home was a Spacestar. This is a pure ICE and I would have ignored it if not for the comments of Mitsubishi about the future.
Pure ICE designs are not fit for a conversion, and even less fit for a conversion to a BEV. The only successful conversion is probably the e-Golf — successful in sales numbers, so so in tech. The Spacestar is in the even-less-fit-for-conversion category.
A rebranded Zoe with a Spacestar-like exterior would be about the same size. Regretfully, that is not what is decided. What is written in the stars is Mitsubishi’s choice to build an electric Spacestar on the CMF-EV platform, the new platform for fully electric cars and crossovers that the Alliance is putting the finishing touch to.
Last but not least, we turn our attention to the Outlander PHEV, perhaps the most successful plug-in in its class. A slight refresh with a minimal battery upgrade did wonders for demand. If this is indicative of its market potential, the future for the Outlander is still bright. According to what I heard on the stand, there will be more battery upgrades. I hope the new technologies developed for the Engelberg Tourer might also be implemented in the Outlander.
I am not known for my love for the PHEV, mainly because of the many compliance and incentive collection models. But I always respected the really useful models like the Volt and Outlander PHEV.
The battery prices are still too high to have a fully battery electric Outlander or Engelberg SUV, with their abominable aerodynamic features. What Mitsubishi is doing for this class, with its powerful and versatile hybrid architecture, is the right approach.