Two years ago, it looked like Mitsubishi was ready to have a noticeable presence in plug-in electric vehicles. After all, the all-electric i (also known as the i-MiEV in Japan, where it has been sold since 2009) was considered cute and fun to drive. It wasn't cheap, but at that time it was priced lower than the Nissan Leaf and qualified for incentives. The Japanese automaker said it had big plans in store for more electrified offerings, starting with a plug-in hybrid variation of its Outlander crossover vehicle.
More recently, though, the plans has slowed and the company has become noticeably quiet. A statement made by a company spokesman makes it sound like Mitsubishi's EV product pipeline won't be ramping up anytime soon. As Mitsubishi Motors North America's Roger Yasuka told Plug In Cars, "We are just in midst of planning our future model line up including the EV, PHEV, and HEV vehicles... Mitsubishi is unlikely to have much beyond its current line up to offer plug-in customers for the next few years."
Sales looked good for the i at the beginning of this year, with 594 sold in the US in January and February, but that figure only grew to 882 for the first six months of the year. The Outlander plug-in hybrid, available in Japan, was hurt by a recall this spring. Its lithium-ion battery had been short circuiting during a screening process that infected the batteries with contaminants during production.
Mitsubishi has been thrilled to roll out high-performance plug-in racers like an upcoming 500 horsepower super plug-in hybrid; or its MiEV Elolution II that raced at Pikes Peak earlier this year. The problem has been producing and marketing mainstream plug-ins that bring solid returns on investment.