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Mitsubishi lines up 5 new electric models, from SUVs to minis

Early Japanese leader in EVs now races to come from behind

Mitsubishi Motors introduces a plug-in version of its Outlander at a 2019 event attended by Indonesia's then-Vice President Muhammad Jusuf Kalla. (Photo by Jun Suzuki)

TOKYO -- Mitsubishi Motors will add five or more mainly electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles to its lineup starting this year, Nikkei has learned.

The first comes in December, when the automaker introduces the Eclipse Cross, a plug-in hybrid sport utility vehicle, for its home market of Japan.

Mitsubishi aims to have electrified vehicles account for half of its global sales in 2030, up from 7% now. The automaker is accelerating its push into electrics in response to increasingly strong vehicle emissions rules worldwide.

The latest plug-in hybrid version of the Outlander SUV is slated for release in the fiscal year starting April 2022. Mitsubishi looks to roll out a hybrid version of its Xpander minivan, a hot seller in Southeast Asia, as early as fiscal 2023.

Mitsubishi will tap partnerships to expand its lineup of electrified models. In China, the company and Guangzhou Automobile Group will release a jointly developed EV in fiscal 2021. The automaker plans to develop a mini-EV with Nissan Motor, part of a three-way alliance with France's Renault.

Mitsubishi was a pioneer in electrics. The automaker introduced the i-MiEV, the world's first mass-produced electric vehicle, in 2009. In 2013, the first-generation Outlander plug-in hybrid became the industry's first four-wheel drive sport utility vehicle of its kind.

But today, the automaker has only three EV and plug-in hybrid models combined. The company will end production for the i-MiEV as soon as this fiscal year. Its current lineup has only five hybrid models.

Mitsubishi is now moving faster to electrify popular gas-powered models. In addition, the company aims to improve fuel efficiency in its gasoline autos to cut average fleet-wide carbon emissions from new vehicles by 40% compared to fiscal 2010.

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