Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV: Are Friends Electric?

The history of the Electric vehicle is a story that has a great deal more twists and turns that you may at first think. In fact we need to go all the way back to the late 1800s to see how early EVs built upon their popularity to get to a situation where they were outselling the internal combustion engine by significant numbers, with some historians suggesting a figure of 10 to 1 in favour of the EV.


So for those of you out there that see battery power and its derivatives as being based upon new technologies and therefore, somehow distrustful, please need to take a few moments to reassess.

Indeed the Electric Auto Association at have kindly provided the following, fascinating, time line:

1834: Thomas Davenport invents the battery electric car. Or possibly Robert Anderson of Scotland (between 1832 and 1839). Using non-rechargable batteries. Electric vehicles would hold all vehicle land speed records until about 1900.

1859: Gaston Plante invented rechargeable lead-acid batteries.

1889: Thomas Edison built an EV using nickel-alkaline batteries.

1895: First auto race in America , won by an EV.

1896: First car dealer – sells only EVs.

1897: First vehicle with power steering – an EV. Electric self-starters 20 years before appearing in gas-powered cars.

1898: NYC blizzard, only EVs were capable of transport on the roads. First woman to buy a car – it was an EV.

1899: Pope Manufacturing Company forms the Electric Vehicle Company, the first large-scale operation in the US automobile industry.

1900: NYC’s huge pollution problem – horses. 2.5 million pounds of manure, 60,000 gallons of urine daily on the streets; 15,000 dead horses removed from the streets each year. All US cars produced: 33% steam cars, 33% EV, and 33% gasoline cars. Poll at the National Automobile Show in NYC showed people’s first choice for automobiles was electric followed closely by steam.


1901: Oldsmobile EV (Walt Disney’s). William McKinley, 25th US President, takes his final ride in an electric ambulance.

1903: First speeding ticket – it was earned in an EV. Krieger company makes a hybrid vehicle — using a gasoline engine to supplement a battery pack.

1904: America has only 7% of the 2 million miles of roads better than dirt – only 141 miles, or less than one mile in 10,000 was “paved”. Here’s a 1904 Curved Dash Olds (replica). Henry Ford begins assembly line production of low-priced gas-powered vehicles.

1908: Henry Ford buys his wife, Clara Ford, an EV. Many socialites of that time gave this rousing endorsement for EVs, “It never fails me.”

And I could go on, but as you can see, EVs were really at the cutting edge of car design at the end of the nineteenth century and looked, for all intents, to become the power source of choice. So what happened? Most commentators suggest that it was the introduction of modern thinking production methods that finally saw the end of alternative engine technologies, such as steam and electricity, as smaller, independent companies were unable to compete with the increased purchasing power that mass production made possible. After all, economies of scale dictate that the more raw materials you buy, the cheaper they become and thus, companies like the fledgling Ford with their Model T and its derivatives, were able to push forward with the internal combustion engine.

And so we come to the present day. In MotorMartin’s opinion, until pure electric vehicles can gain a range of around 350 miles combined with a recharge time no more than thirty minutes to an hour in length, then pure EVs still have a way to go.


So what next for those of us who want the convenience that petrol and diesel bring to the table but with vastly superior efficiency? Well Mitsubishi have spent the last few years trying to convince us that they have engineered the answer in the form of the original Outlander PHEV launched back in 2013 and the latest PHEV which has received a comprehensive revamp to get it ready for the 2016 model range.

Mitsubishi themselves are extremely proud of their SUV which, they state, “has been Britain’s most successful plug-in hybrid electric vehicle, outselling its nearest competitor sevenfold last year. It uses tomorrow’s technology today, helping to conserve our world’s finite resources; and it can also save you money too – not just a little, but a lot!”

With a lot to live up to then, MotorMartin was able to test the latest PHEV whilst on a recent visit to see the excellent folk at Nathaniel Cars of Bridgend, a highly respected, multi franchise dealership in South Wales. Details of the dealership can be found at whilst MotorMartin’s thoughts on Nathaniel Cars are well worth checking out at


Despite the PHEV becoming more and more popular, see to find out more, it’s only when you spend time up close with one do you get to appreciate the thought and care put into the Outlander way back at the design stage.

The Mitsubishi is an impressively proportioned vehicle, with exterior dimensions of 4695 x 1800 x 1710mm comparing favourably to the BMW X3 and Audi Q5 whilst not reaching the more extreme size of a Range Rover or X5. The redesigned front grill of the Mitsubishi, in MotorMartin’s view, gives the PHEV a much more upmarket feel than its previous incarnation as well as creating a striking new look. I particularly like the additional chrome detailing and revamped LED daytime running lights that follow the lines of the new front end beautifully.

The rest of the Outlander has had just as much attention lavished upon it and that effort definitely shows. With a strong rising crease running from both front wings, accentuating the muscular profile which, when combined with the high waistline, provides a strong overall impression of both power and grace. This is certainly a car that warrants that all important rearward glance as you walk away after even the shortest of journey.


The rear of the Outlander is just as striking, with its clean lines and well designed rear light clusters proving that Mitsubishi has thought about the whole package and has created a handsome SUV that MotorMartin would be happy to have on the driveway at home.

In part 2 of this Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV review, MotorMartin will be focusing on the stunning Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle technology, its ease of use and the driving experience as a whole. Most importantly though, does the Mitsubishi offer a solution to the problems previously outlined above, can it offer ‘real life’ motoring as Mitsubishi promise. I can’t wait.

Where will you go?

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