Like a stiff breeze off the White Cliffs of Dover, UK sales of the Mitsubishi Outlander Plug-in Hybrid may have the wind at its back. That's because the Japanese automaker isn't charging any extra, relative to the diesel-powered Outlander. And UK's Duxford Auto Group says it's already feeling the positive effects.
The auto dealership is conducting about a dozen test drives a day for potential (and curious) customers, Cambridge News says. More tellingly, Duxford Auto is rebooking another dozen or so test drives per weekend day because of pent-up interest. The company hasn't released UK sales figures, Mitsubishi spokesman Dan Irvin told AutoblogGreen, but Duxford Auto says sales will be stronger than expected, especially since the Outlander PHEV is exempt from UK congestion charges. Mitsubishi introduced the Outlander PHEV to the UK this spring. The bonus there was that, inclusive of a UK government grant, the car was priced at the equivalent of about $47,000, or about the same price as the base diesel-powered version. The model, which pairs a 2.0-liter gas engine with an electric motor, has an all-electric range of 32 miles.
Mitsubishi ran into problems with the Outlander PHEV in spring 2013 after a battery melted at a Japan dealership, causing the company to halt production on the model. The company later discovered that some of the batteries were short-circuiting due to a flaw in the screening process. Once those issues were solved, Mitsubishi doubled its production rate last year to make up for lost time. Meanwhile, Automotive News reported last month that California regulators will delay sales of the model in that state to late next year or early 2016 because of battery issues. The state, easily the largest US plug-in vehicle market, wants Mitsubishi to include battery-degradation monitors for the car's lithium-ion batteries.
Mitsubishi spokesman Alex Fedorak refuted the report that the Outlander PHEV may not be available in the US until 2016. "Launch plans for the US version of the Outlander PHEV remain unchanged with an expected debut of Fall 2015," Fedorak told AutoblogGreen.