Mitsubishi's hybrid concept car unveiled at the Tokyo show today will form the basis of a model scheduled for production in 2013.
Called PX-MiEV, it is an SUV with a conscience. Its all-wheel-drive system and even its paintwork and seats are said to help save fuel.
20% of Mitsubishis to be electric by 2020
Mitsubishi has pledged that one car in every five it makes will be electrically powered by 2020. It is also seeking a 50% reduction in the fuel consumption of petrol and diesel models by the same date.
'The world of the electric vehicle is going to expand,' said Gayo Uesugi, Mitsubishi's head of strategy and product development. 'We will produce cars that combine the pleasure of driving with concern for the environment.'
The PX-MiEV gives strong clues as to how the company plans to meet its targets while still allowing customers to drive the kind of cars they have become used to.
How does the PX-MiEV work?
The PX-MiEV combines a 1.6-litre petrol engine and an electric motor in an all-new hybrid powertrain.
At low-to-medium speeds, the electric motor alone drives the car. As the batteries start to run out of charge the petrol engine cuts in to serve as a generator. It also delivers power in tandem with the electric motor when extra performance is needed.
Front- or four-wheel drive is selected electronically through Mitsubishi's Super All Wheel Control (SAWC) system, while an electronic differential decides how much drive effort should go to each rear wheel.
The exterior and interior design of the show car is simple and unostentatious 'appropriate' is the word Mitsubishi uses but there's no shortage of luxuries.
Air suspension can be set at three different ride heights to suit the terrain, while the glass blocks out ultra-violet light.
The paint reflects the sun's heat, and individually air-conditioned seats allow the main climate system to be turned down to save energy and reduce CO2.
Mitsubishi launched its first electric vehicle, the i-MiEV, in Japan earlier this year and plans to bring it to the UK in 2010.
Mitsubishi i MiEV Cargo concept van
At the Tokyo motor show there's also a glimpse of how the idea might be extended to short-haul urban delivery vehicles with the i-MiEV Cargo concept, which has a large, almost-square luggage area in place of the normal rear end.