Car News

e-Evolution Concept Previews Mitsubishi’s Next Phase

Mitsubishi Motors suddenly has quite a bit going for it: it’s currently celebrating its 100th anniversary, it unveiled the new tagline “Drive your Ambition”, and it’s had new life breathed into it by becoming part of the Renault–Nissan–Mitsubishi Alliance.

To put a bow on top of it all, the company unveiled its e-Evolution concept at the 2017 Tokyo Motor Show.

This concept heralds various aspects of the brand’s future, some of which are obvious – the name starts with an “e”, after all – and others that are more subtle but just as important.

A new design direction

On presenting the e-Evolution concept, Mitsubishi Motors corporate vice-president of design Tsunehiro Kunimoto made his department’s intentions eminently clear: their mission is to “re-build the Mitsubishi brand and enhance customer value” through attractive designs.

This is expressed through the e-Evolution concept by portraying strength and quality. Kunimoto says that the car is meant to evoke robustness, dynamism, and functional beauty through its tight body with bulked-up shoulders and a chiseled, angular look that’s intended to seem carved from a block of metal.

There’s a confidence that comes through in this design that seems new to Mitsubishi, and early signs indicate that it’s more than rhetoric: Kunimoto says that a production-bound prototype based on this concept is not far down the line.

A declaration of consistency and independence

One thing that Mitsubishi has been missing recently is a consistent, recognizable look across its entire product line. To that end, Kunimoto points out that this concept carries several elements that we can expect to see appear with regularity in Mitsubishi designs over the next few years. The slightly wider and squatted dynamic shield grille, defined shoulder line with integrated door handles, angular taillights, and hexagonal rear are all elements that are intended to define Mitsubishi products going forward.

Electric power, SUVs, and performance don’t need to be mutually exclusive

Through its design, this concept attempts to address a number of incongruities in consumer demand that the industry is currently grappling with, particularly that neither SUVs nor EVs can be successful as performance vehicles.

Kunimoto suggests that the move to electrification can be of benefit in the sense that there’s a shift taking place “from engine performance to IT performance” – since the weight and bulk of an engine block are no longer required, there’s more room to integrate systems such as enhanced cameras and radar to drive autonomous systems, and weight distribution will be easier to control.

He therefore combines certain design elements to emphasize that this car holds all of the capabilities of an SUV – high ground clearance, large tires, and short overhangs in the front and rear to position the wheels as close to the corners as possible for stable handling – while also incorporating unmistakeably futuristic elements like the split LED headlights and angular floating roof window design to suggest heavily at the EV technology underneath.

Mitsubishi’s next phase of electric mobility

Mitsubishi Motors was the first car company to bring a mass-produced EV to market in the modern era by launching the i-MiEV in 2009, and the e-Evolution concept indicates an intention to remain innovators in that space.

Although few specifics were provided in direct relation to what might power the production vehicle that will result from the e-Evolution concept, the company did announce in Tokyo that it will release 11 electrified vehicles over the next few years, including a small all-electric SUV by 2020 that would seem to originate from this concept. This figure encompasses at least one electrified variant of every product in its lineup, whether it be traditional hybrid, plug-in hybrid, or pure EV. The first of those that will land in our market, the Outlander PHEV plug-in hybrid, was released in other countries four years ago but will arrive in Canada later this year.