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Mitsubishi ramps up electric vehicle production

Date: 05 November 2012   |   Author: Jack Carfrae

Mitsubishi's UK MD Lance Bradley says the firm will have an electric variant of every model in five years

Mitsubishi is set to dramatically ramp-up its electric and plug-in hybrid programme with a suite of new EVs due in the coming months and years.

Speaking to BusinessCar, UK managing director Lance Bradley said: "Within five years we'll have an electric or a plug-in hybrid version of every car in our range.

"The new [plug-in hybrid] Outlander can go for 30 miles on electric power and a lot of people will use it entirely on electric.

"All the [petrol-eelctric] hybrids on-sale today can't do anything like 30 miles on electric. These new generations will be game-changers, a step ahead of anything that's on sale now."

Bradley claimed that the arrival of the plug-in Outlander 4x4 in the UK market next year is expected to bring a new lease of life to the Japanese brand's fleet business.

Its current deals are limited to specialist firms that require four-wheel drive vehicles for heavy-duty use, such as the Highways Agency and the Environment Agency.

He continued: "The Outlander plug-in hybrid will have emissions under 50g/km and BIK of 5%. That opens up a whole new opportunity for us with business users."

He admitted that unfavourable exchange rates had put pressure on the company's operations in the UK and it was an issue that still had to be overcome.

"Our margins are under pressure due to the Pound-Yen exchange rate. We simply have to cut our margins. That means there are some parts of the fleet market we can't compete in."

Bradley said sales of Mitsubishi's first electric car, the i-Miev city car, had been difficult due to battery technology and preconceptions about EVs, but that it had gone down well as part of a rental car-share scheme.

"A couple of things are making EV sales difficult: battery price and range anxiety. If you can get [customers] into the car then they'll very quickly overcome it.

"It's primarily fleet users that target [the i-Miev]. Hertz has some - they have a car-share scheme in London. It's been good publicity and generally a good exercise. We'll be looking to do something with them in future products."

Pricing of EVs, Bradley claimed, was also a crucial element to their success: "It needs to be priced at a level where you can explain to people. However good it is, they don't expect to pay huge money for it.

"The key thing is qualifying the customer and marking out the journeys they do. That's how you need to position the car."

He also hinted that the firm's next Evo performance saloon will be a hybrid: "I would expect the next Evo to be a hybrid. There's no reason at all why we couldn't have a hybrid Evo in a couple of years' time."

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