The next-generation Mitsubishi Triton engine will be electric, but exactly what kind of electric is not yet clear. This is because the new Triton should be launched around 2022 – in electric vehicle development far, far in the future.
Current mainstream electric vehicle technologies are hybrid electric (HEV), plug-in hybrid (PHEV) and dedicated plug-in battery-electric (BEV). While on the topic of acronyms, there is of course also ICE (internal combustion engine).
The HEV has ICE with a smaller battery that is purely charged when the vehicle is braked or goes downhill. The PHEV has the same arrangement, but with a larger battery and plug-in charging technology. This arrangement offers the long-distance flexibility of both ICE and HEV, with the short-range cost-benefit of a BEV.
Battery capacity is expensive to manufacture, so your BEV will have that as a price premium. The range is also limited to the battery’s capacity, and on longer trips recharging takes time and the infrastructure is not always available. However, most car trips per day are well within the range of new BEVs. In addition, charging time and infrastructure are improving. The cost of running on the battery is much lower than using ICE, especially in countries where the cost of electricity is discounted after hours.
According to new Chief Operating Officer Ashwani Gupta, Mitsubishi is at this stage giving more consideration to the first two technologies than the BEV.
“One of the core strengths of Mitsubishi is to have electrification and ICE in the same car, so we don’t have the policy to develop a dedicated electrified car,” he explained.
Another consideration is the role of the Triton as a workhorse. It needs to be able to handle payload, towing or carrying cargo, which counts against BEV.
Mitsubishi is investigating two or three options at this stage, possibly different ICE/battery combinations in PHEV format. Mitsubishi already has the commercially available Outlander PHEV (not yet available in SA), with a petrol engine, large battery and two electric motors driving the front and rear wheels. This vehicle can be charged from the mains at your house and operate like a BEV. When you need to go further or faster, the engine kicks in to keep the battery charged. Should you need extra power for overtaking, the ICE will link directly to the front wheels. As a hybrid, it recharges the battery during braking or when going downhill.
According to Ashwani Gupta, they need to find the ideal balance between high performance, fuel efficiency and environmental considerations. Finding this balance is becoming a reality quite quickly with the pace of development in electric technology.
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