While Mazda and Nissan were showing off the next generation of electric vehicles, specifically in crossover form, Mitsubishi was having a little fun with electrification, unveiling the MI-Tech Concept buggy.
“We are dedicated to electrification technology, particularly plug-in hybrids (PHEVs),” said Takao Kato, chief executive officer, Mitsubishi Motors Corp (MMC). “We will be expanding our lineup of electrified vehicles by delivering more variations and leveraging the diverse electrification technology in the alliance to make MMC the leader in the PHEV category going forward.”
And though the MI-Tech Concept is unlikely to be one of the new vehicles the company makes, it does present technologies that will reportedly be used in future compact and mid-sized SUVs, as well as Kei cars (the mini-compacts ubiquitous on Japanese streets).
Among the features of the lightweight concept plug-in hybrid (PHEV) buggy, is a new electric drivetrain with a 4-motor electric 4WD system, and advanced driver assist and safety technologies.
One of the key PHEV requirements (power generation) has gone away from a gasoline internal combustion engine in favour of a lightweight turbine, which allows powerful output without the bulkiness of an engine. It also offers the option of running on fuels such as diesel, alcohol or even kerosene, making it ideal for use in just about part of the world.
The 4-motor drivetrain features front and rear Dual-Motor Active Yaw Control (AYC) units, making the brake calipers electric as well in order to fine-tune control over driving and braking force while delivering turning and traction improvements. As an added benefit, counter rotating the wheels on opposite sides of the vehicle allows quick 180-degree spins.
As for driving aids and safety systems, the MI-Tech Concept uses a Human Machine Interface (HMI) that displays various information on an augmented reality (AR) windshield, presenting all the necessary vehicle, road and traffic condition to allow the driver to make accurate decisions (even in poor visibility) without taking eyes off the road. The Mitsubishi MI-Pilot semi-autonomous system works on freeways, secondary roads and city streets, and even unpaved roads.
As for looks, the front end adopts Mitsubishi’s signature Dynamic Shield, but that’s about where any similarities to the current crop of Mitsubishi SUVs end. Copper is used throughout as a complimentary colour to the light blue body and satin trimmings, and also to have the natural tie in to electric wiring.
There is no mistaking its rugged stockiness (Mitsubishi likens it to a metal ingot carved in a cutting machine), which is further emphasized by prominent overfenders, and the large wheel/tire combinations filling up the wheel wells beneath them. A sidestep between the wheels adds utility, while the rear end matches the front with T-shaped lights and bright skid plates on each side.
The instrument panel is horizontal in design, adding copper lines to tie it to the exterior look. Copper is also used on the steering wheel. Controls are arrayed keyboard-like at the front of the centre console, which features a high handhold that also acts as a wrist-rest for the driver to work the switchgear.
Finishing it off, a windshield-projected head up display presents the driver with information about car behavior, terrain recognition and route guidance.