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Speaking at the Paris motor show last week, Bradley (pictured above) confirmed

that the new Outlander PHEV will be homologated for towing. “Expect a towing limit around two-thirds that

of the diesel Outlander.” Practical Caravan spoke to a senior exec from

Mitsubishi in Japan who told us he expected the towing limit to be confirmed as

1500kg. That’s low for a 4×4, but still enough to tow many mid-sized tourers.


Even when hybrids have been homologated for towing, the high

purchase price has been off-putting. A Lexus RX450h costs from £44,495, for



Bradley wouldn’t be drawn on how much the Outlander PHEV

will cost – not surprising when the price of the diesel model hasn’t been

announced – but he is keenly aware that the car will have to be priced

carefully to sell.


“We have looked closely at what other people are charging

for their hybrids and have been surprised by the price premium,” said Bradley. “Our

hybrid will cost more than the diesel, but for the right customer the running

cost savings will cover the extra purchase price over three years.”


The government’s £5000 grant for low-carbon vehicles will

apply to the Outlander PHEV, so buyers will be able to recoup some of the price

premium straightaway.


The Outlander PHEV is the world’s first production plug-in hybrid

SUV. As ‘plug-in’ implies, the Outlander’s battery can be recharged from an

external power source when the car is parked.  That makes the PHEV well suited to drivers who

regularly commute relatively short distances, and so can rely on electric power

alone for their daily journeys, topping the battery each night for a fraction

of what it would cost to fuel a petrol or diesel car. “Our car will travel up

to 30 miles on the electric motors alone. It will be fabulously cheap to run for

anyone driving 30 miles or less every day,” Bradley said.


Since the Outlander PHEV has a petrol engine as well as

electric motors, it avoids the problem of limited range which makes pure

electric vehicles like the Mitsubishi i-MiEV and Nissan Leaf impractical for

drivers who regularly tackle long journeys. With a 30-mile all-electric range

matched to a total claimed range of 547 miles or more, Bradley argues that the Outlander PHEV

offers the advantages of an electric vehicle while tackling the obvious

drawbacks. “People are worried about cost, people are worried about the range.

The PHEV will address these concerns.”


However, Mitsubishi’s UK boss is refreshingly honest in

admitting that the hybrid won’t be the best choice for everyone. “One of the

key things will be qualifying customers,” he admitted. “If you drive a lot of

motorway miles or tow regularly you’ll be better off with a diesel.”


Just how many customers will choose the hybrid over the diesel is uncertain. “It could be a quarter, it could be half,”

said Bradley. Whatever the true split, the towing market is very important to

Mitsubishi and the new Outlander range. “Around half the current Outlanders we

sell leave dealers with a towball already fitted,” said Bradley. “We’d like to

at least match that with the new Outlander.”


Bradley acknowledged that in making the new Outlander diesel

lighter its 85% match figure has dropped compared with its predecessor (85% of

the kerbweight being a sensible limit for safe and secure towing as recommended

by both major caravanning clubs). However, he sees this as a challenge for the

caravan industry to respond to.


“The motor industry has been under huge pressure to make

vehicles lighter and more efficient. We can’t make heavier cars. So caravans

are going to have to get lighter.”


The new Outlander diesel goes on sale in April 2013 with the

PHEV following in July or August.