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Recently I scored a personal first, taking the wheel of my first plug-in hybrid which is the best seller in the world, the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV.

A recent survey carried out in the UK, of drivers who own this Mitsubishi found that around two thirds plug their car in every single day and that 90% charge their vehicles at least two to three times per week. I would imagine that the findings of this survey are pretty well the same around the world. This runs counter to the myth that plug-in hybrids are only driven by people looking to lower their tax bills and are never actually plugged in. I did encounter one motorist, however, who claimed he knows a number of people who do just that. Hands up- during the week spent with the Outlander I plugged in twice.

The survey also showed that 97% of Outlander PHEV owners normally charge their vehicles at home with 23% using public charging points. Again, this refutes the misconception that PHEVs are preventing electric vehicles from accessing charging units. Only 10% of Outlander PHEV owners agree that they always plug in and recharge at motorway services, on longer journeys, suggesting that most use their combined EV/petrol power units for longer journeys instead. My charging experience came via a domestic outlet and this is a very slow procedure, best carried out when tucked up in bed. I could not disagree that plug-in hybrid vehicles not only have an immediate environmental impact, they help familiarise consumers with electric vehicles, providing the perfect segue to a pure electric future.

I have driven a number of pure electric cars and I must admit that vastly improved ranges have made them more appealing, now a word to the various manufacturers bring the prices down. The survey also reveals that 25% of Outlander PHEV owners would consider a pure electric vehicle for their potential next or future purchase. However we suffer in that there are simply just too few charge points and to my horror on a number of occasions I have observed petrol or diesel cars parked where there is a charging point The fact is, if there was a huge switch to electric powered in the immediate future where is the infrastructure. The good news re the Outlander PHEV WLTP emissions and economy figures are 46g/km CO2 and its WLTP pure electric range is 45 electric km (WLTP). Regarding the latter figure I just managed to achieve 32 electric km and I did not have the vehicle long enough to provide an accurate overall figure re economy. As my week with this Mitsubishi rolled out I slowly discovered that with such a vehicle an element of pre planning and thought can assist in achieving wallet pleasing economy and that is something most crave for as the cost of conventional fuels spiral.

For 2019 the Outlander has been upgraded and remember this vehicle has been on our roads for five years and right from the word go it made an impact. Yes it now has a number of competitors; however it remains top of the class in these islands. The latest model has been given a design refresh with a new front grille, bumper and fog lamp bezels, LED headlamp system, rear bumper and spoiler and all new 18 inch alloy wheels. However the most important factor is uprated performance with a new 2.4 litre Atkinson cycle petrol engine and the drive battery features a 13% capacity and out put up by 10%, the electric generator has been given a similar increase and the rear electric motor out put is increased by 10% to 95PS while the PHEV operating system has been upgraded. There are a large number of safety and security features in line with the competition. This generous SUV is quite luxurious and provides high levels of comfort for all onboard. I did observe low noise levels and overall the levels of equipment are much improved. One element that I must not forget the Outlander PHEV features a sophisticated super all wheel control twin motor 4WD system which can deliver safety and surefooted handling regardless of the driving conditions. Finally one comment which was addressed to me by a keen motorist,” it does not look like an SUV”.

Ian Lynas

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