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Mitsubishi shows XR-PHEV concept at LA Show

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Mitsubishi Concept XR-PHEV on stage in LA. Click to enlarge.

Mitsubishi Motors North America, Inc. (MMNA) gave the Mitsubishi Concept XR-PHEV (earlier post) plug-in hybrid its North American debut at the 2014 Los Angeles Auto Show. Mitsubishi said that the Concept XR-PHEV crossover hints at its future design direction for production vehicles in North America and further reaffirms the automaker’s commitment to the US market.

The powertrain features a front engine/front-wheel drive gasoline-powered 1.1-liter inline-3-cylinder turbocharged engine (134 hp/100 kW) paired with a compact electric motor (161 hp/121 kW) with a high-boost converter and a main drive lithium-ion battery pack with storage capacity of 14 kWh (located beneath the floor of the cabin). The new converter raises the MiEV system to 700 volts and helps to further improve energy output and efficiency from both the electric motor as well as the generator.

For additional power optimization with reduced exhaust emissions, the 1.1-liter turbocharged 3-cylinder engine benefits from the latest iteration of Mitsubishi Innovative Valve timing Electronic Control (MIVEC) variable valve-timing.

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System configuration. Click to enlarge.

When operating from the “EV” drive setting (which is the Concept XR-PHEV’s standard driving mode), the PHEV powertrain automatically selects from the three drive system settings – EV, Series Hybrid and Parallel Hybrid. It chooses the one best-suited for that particular driving condition, taking onto consideration the remaining battery charge level within the main-drive lithium-ion battery pack.

Additionally, if the driver wants to remain driving the car purely in “EV” mode, this is possible by selecting Battery Charge Mode (gas engine will operate essentially as a generator to replenish the energy supply of the main-drive lithium-ion battery pack) or in Battery Save Mode (depending on how low the energy level of the main-drive lithium-ion battery pack is, the system will reduce electric energy expenditure on “non-vital” systems such as air conditioning, etc. and will allow EV driving for a limited distance/duration).

The Concept XR-PHEV also has been fitted with several 100 volt AC onboard electrical outlets that are capable of delivering an external power supply of up to 1500 watts of power. This allows the vehicle to supply enough electricity to power the typical household’s domestic appliances for a full day from energy stored within the main-drive lithium-ion battery pack and up to a maximum of 10 days when the engine (with a full tank of gas) is used to recharge the energy supply within the main-drive lithium-ion battery pack.

Fuel economy would be more than 65 mpg US (3.6 l/100 km), and the all-electric range is more than 53 miles (85 km).

Connected car technology. he Concept XR-PHEV features Mitsubishi Motors advanced connected car technology that makes use of the next-generation information systems. By linking to a vehicle information network, the Concept XR-PHEV’s connected car system uploads real-time vehicle status information to the network while simultaneously downloading external data. Information received includes traffic within the vicinity, the status of the traffic signal ahead (currently red, yellow or green), and other information to help the driver operate their car more economically and efficiently than ever before.

Another important role for connected car technology is in the area of vehicle diagnostics. For example, the system can detect if there is a mechanical issue with the car, alert the driver to the severity of the problem, then provide information so that the driver can drive to the closest Mitsubishi Motors service center in the area (if deemed necessary). Furthermore, should the vehicle be involved in an accident, the connected car system can immediately contact emergency responders as well as provide them with important information (severity of the crash, alert first responders that the vehicle has a high-voltage system if the vehicle is an EV/PHEV, etc.).

Future technologies to be incorporated into the connected car system could be novel interfaces such as the AR Windshield, which makes use of augmented reality technology that would allow the driver to collect and process data more safely and efficiently without having to take eyes off of the road ahead.

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e-Assist active safety systems. Click to enlarge.

Safety. The Mitsubishi Concept XR-PEV has been equipped with the following advanced safety systems:

  • Pedestrian Collision Mitigating Auto-braking. Pedestrian Collision Mitigation Auto-braking utilizes both radar- and camera-based systems to detect when a pedestrian walks in front of the vehicle, then automatically applies the brakes to help mitigate injury to the pedestrian or to avoid a collision altogether.

  • Rearward Blind Spot Vehicle Warning. Rearward Blind Spot Vehicle Warning helps to minimize collisions by alerting the driver of a vehicle approaching from behind. Additionally, the system will detect and alert the driver to the presence of a vehicle or other objects (pedestrians or cyclists in motion; stationary obstructions such as a parked vehicle, fire hydrant, etc.) when the driver’s own vehicle is backing up.

  • Unintentional Vehicle Move Off Control. The Unintentional Vehicle Move Off Control system operates through a camera mounted at the front of the vehicle working in coordination with a variety of sensors. It detects the mistaken or unintended use of the accelerator instead of the brake pedal and then limits engine power to help restrain forward movement of the vehicle. The system also issues a warning to the driver.

  • Driving Safety Support System. The Driving Safety Support System helps to improve safety for both the vehicle’s occupants, as well as pedestrians/cyclists by creating communication between the vehicle and road infrastructure (in its home market, it links to the Japanese Help Net and Japanese National Police Agency).

  • Forward Collision Mitigation. A radar-based system that in certain circumstances helps determine if a frontal collision is imminent, it warns the driver with audible and visual signals, and if necessary automatically applies emergency braking to reduce the severity of the collision.

  • Lane Departure Warning. As its name suggests, the Lane Departure Warning system is a camera-based system that helps to monitor the lane position of the vehicle and warns the driver via visual and audio warnings should they begin to veer into the next lane.

  • Adaptive Cruise Control. This radar-based sensor at the front of the vehicle constantly measures distance between itself and the vehicle in front of it, allowing the driver to select between different following distance settings.

  • Auto Hi-beam Headlights. Through the use of an on-board camera, the Auto Hi-beam Headlights will automatically dim when the system detects oncoming vehicles or pedestrians, re-illuminating the headlights at full strength once the objects have passed.

Forward Collision Mitigation, Lane Departure Warning and Adaptive Cruise Control are already available on the recently redesigned 7-passenger 2015 Mitsubishi Outlander crossover vehicle.

Future technologies. Mitsubishi used the presentation of the concept PHEV to describe a variety of new V2X and other advanced technologies that will likely make their way into future Mitsubishi production cars:

  • Next-Generation Driver Safety Support System. The Driver Safety Support System improves vehicle occupant and pedestrian safety by utilizing communication between Mitsubishi vehicles and road infrastructure. This helps to prevent accidents by warning the driver of the vehicle—or pedestrians and cyclists not even visible to the driver further down the road—of each other’s presence and/or pending interaction. For example, a DSSS system using roadside sensors and cameras could send pedestrian/cyclist info through a vehicle-mounted communication system, thus helping to reduce the chance of an accident.

  • Augmented Reality (AR) Windshield. The AR Windshield makes use of augmented reality technology to display critical data to the driver while the vehicle is on the move, improving safety for the vehicle’s occupants as well as pedestrians by allowing drivers to more efficiently maintain control of their car without taking their eyes off of the road in front of them.

    Information projected onto the windshield could include: Satellite navigation-based drive route guidance; Distance to vehicle ahead; Lane Departure Warning alerts; Vehicles/pedestrians in blind spots; and Caution Tracking information that includes vehicle-to-vehicle communications.

  • Lane Keep Assist. Lane Keep Assist technology provides handling support if deemed necessary to prevent the driver from drifting out of their lane due to inattentiveness or fatigue. Along with a traffic sign recognition system that uses an on-board camera to recognize road signs, the system can further alert the driver about the road signs through additional information and/or warnings. In the event of an emergency, the system will then activate an engine speed limiter.

  • Cooperative Adaptive Cruise Control. Working in tandem with the Lane Keep Assist system, Cooperative Adaptive Cruise Control provides forward visual assistance on roads and highways by sharing acceleration, deceleration and braking input information with the vehicle in front of it by using vehicle-to-vehicle as well as available vehicle-to-infrastructure communication systems to establish and maintain accurate and efficient distances between the two vehicles. This not only helps to improve safety but also encourages more efficient vehicle operation as well by reducing traffic congestion.

We brought the Concept XR-PHEV to LA so that we could talk about our new design direction and how future products will be taking clues from its dynamic lines. We also brought it to LA to reinforce the message that Mitsubishi is here to stay in the United States. As we regrow the brand we will introduce new models while updating existing ones, creating a new look and a new value proposition for the brand.

—MMNA Executive Vice President, Don Swearingen

Comments

HarveyD

Finally, a major manufacturer has decided to copy Tesla and put the battery pack in the right place and convert the output to 700 Volts for smaller more powerful e-motors.

The smaller 1.1L 3-cyls range extender is another good decision.

The driver assist sub-systems will be more than welcomed and will contribute to reduced accidents and fatalities.

Nick Lyons

One hopes the production version loses the silly car-show wheels (likely) and stupid tiny rear windows.

Roger Pham

Finally, someone has listened to my pleas of using a 3-cyliner-1-liter-turbocharged engine in a PHEV.
Finally, someone has listened to my pleas of using a small fuel tank just enough for a PHEV, instead of a regular 15 gal tanks that have taken away so much space in previous PHEV's.
See, it isn't so hard! This is will be the best PHEV so far, for having so much internal space and trunk space, just like a TESLA. I guess pleas and prayers do get answered!

And, also, thanks to Mitsubishi, Toyota, and Honda for having listened to my pleas of providing a plug-out for their EV's so that you can power your house with your car! This will be a first for PHEV's.

Alex_C

@Roger,
I think this concept, with this drivetrain, can never become a production model. Simply it cannot go up mountains at low battery SOC, as it uses single speed transmission. It has a very small generator (10 kW, I did a search, it's not even mentioned here), insufficient to keep up with the ICE traffic (Chevy Volt uses 54 kW generator).
If at max speed (say 180 kph/112mph) ICE spins at 6,000 rpm, at 30 kph up a steep hill it would operate at just 1,000 rpm. No way it could work.

Roger Pham

@Alex,
Indeed, good point. I thought about that. But then, who would go climb a steep mountain with a drained battery?
The 14-kWh pack on board carries a lot of energy. Assuming a car w/ gross weight of 1,500 kg. How high can it climb with that much energy on board? 14kWh= 50 MJ, can lift a 1,500-kg car 3,400 meters, or above 11,000 ft, at which level, O2 will be needed or one may pass out from hypoxia, assuming no friction. However, the engine will provide 50% of energy and torque, or even more, so the car can climb to 22,000 ft before exhausting the battery pack! On trips up the Himalayan's peak, just stop at a charging station to top up the battery pack at around 20,000 ft height!

On out-of-town trips, always start with a fully-charged battery, or charge the battery to full while enroute, just so that if the engine should fail, you have 50 miles of electric drive to find a repair place or a charging station to drive home.

However, I would recommend a 3-speed transmission in order to allow the motor and speed controller to be downsized to 80 hp. Since the transmission will be very cheap in comparison to the electric power train, thousands of dollars ( 80hp x $65/hp = $5,200 - ~$1,000transmission = $4,200) can be saved.

For city all-electric driving, 80 hp of electric motor via a 3-speed transmission will give plenty of power and torque for speeds below 70 mph, since the transmission will double or triple the torque of the motor, thus allowing an 80-hp motor to perform on par with a 160-hp motor without gearshift transmission.

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