Friday, June 11, 2010

Another First for Mitsubishi? A Diesel-Hybrid Lancer Evo

Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution

Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution

It�"s just a rumor, but the potential move by Mitsubishi to give its Lancer Evolution a diesel-hybrid powertrain is interesting for several reasons.

First of all, Mitsubishi is not afraid to be first on an innovative green technology. The Mitsubishi i-MiEV was the first all-electric car to hit the mainstream market. That was in Japan last year, but it�"s heading to North America next year. Given its smart-like size and regular-sized price tag, the i-MiEV is very likely to be a niche car for urban dwellers. That�"s okay. It�"s one more solid option for EV buyers. The micro-car is cute and fun and might even develop a cult-like following. Even if it doesn�"t sell in big numbers, the i-MiEV could catapult the Mitsubishi brand in front of U.S. consumers.

The existing Lancer Evolution is also an iconic niche car with a fanatical following. The �SEvo,⬝ which has been around for nearly two decades, transforms a compact economy car into high-performance ride�by adding a powerful turbocharged engine, an all-wheel-drive system and numerous tweaks to improve handling and braking. Mitsubishi engineers need to modify that formula again�in a greener direction�if the Evo is going to pass tougher CO2 regulations hitting Europe and the U.S. Combining clean diesel technology and a hybrid gas-electric drivetrain in the next generation Evo could cut CO2 emissions to less than 200g/km, while delivering 0 � 60 performance under five seconds.

Symbolic Value

Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution

Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution

Sure, this is one more example of a hybrid that puts performance first and fuel efficiency second. The current 291-horsepower U.S. version of the Evo only manages a combined 20-mpg average. We�"re guessing that the double-whammy of diesel and hybrid could boost the mileage beyond 30 MPG. But if the engineers can slightly downsize the engine, and make up the performance with a boost of diesel torque and battery power, then the model could approach a doubling of fuel economy over the conventional version.

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