Mitsubishi's Tokyo show star is roofless SUV with four electric motors

Mitsubishi will reveal a new compact SUV concept with a range-extending EV tech at next month’s Tokyo motor show.

The MI-Tech Concept, first confirmed last month, is previewed again in another image released by the firm. It shows the model is a two-seater, lacking doors and a roof, so it's unlikely to preview a close-to-production model.

However, its intent is to preview a new generation of plug-in hybrid powertrains to be used on SUV models smaller than the Outlander.  Instead of the traditional combustion engine, Mitsubishi has deployed a gas turbine engine-generator, allowing use of pure EV and series hybrid drive modes. 

The hybrid technology will be smaller and lighter than Mitsubishi’s current plug-in hybrid system, which it pioneered first on the Outlander PHEV. It will be four-wheel drive, with two electric motors on each axle for for greater off-road control and precise handling, the brand claims. It's also claimed to offer both improved efficiency in urban environments.

Mitsubishi's Tokyo show star is roofless SUV with four electric motors

Mitsubishi has not released any further technical details of the new hybrid system, which will join the larger one it already has in its range on the Outlander. That current plug-in hybrid tech mixes a 2.4-litre petrol engine with a 13.8kWh battery and twin electric motors.

A replacement for the Outlander was previewed at the Geneva motor show in March with a concept called Engelberg Tourer that continued with a 2.4-litre petrol engine but now mated to a larger 20kWh battery. 

The concept car’s downsized plug-in hybrid technology could therefore be intended for the Eclipse Cross, either in this generation or the next. Mitsubishi sources confirmed to Autocar earlier this year that the Eclipse Cross would be offered with plug-in hybrid technology in the future.

Mitsubishi sources also confirmed to Autocar that it would look to move its three SUV models - ASX, Eclipse Cross and Outlander - further apart in size. The ASX is set to be offered with an all-electric drivetrain in its next generation, rather than hybrid technology.

The 2019 Tokyo concept will follow a 2017 concept at the same show, called e-Evolution. The model offered visual clues to the next ASX, but more pertinently was an early indication of what the famous Evo could turn into - a high-performance electric compact SUV - should Mitsubishi decide to revive it early in the next decade as has long been expected. 

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