There’s no doubt about it — the Mitsubishi Outlander Plug-In Hybrid has been a hit in many of the markets where it’s been available. It has been a huge seller in the Netherlands, the UK, Germany (where it has actually taken #1 from several German manufacturers), Sweden, and elsewhere. In Europe as a whole, the Outlander Plug-In is clearly the #1 top-selling plug-in car in 2015 so far.
Unfortunately, for US buyers, the Mitsubishi Outlander Plug-In has been delayed for years. But a US release is apparently around the corner. (I know, we’ve heard that before, but I’m hopeful the news is for real this time.) Mitsubishi has indicated that the 2017 Mitsubishi Outlander Plug-In will arrive on US shores in the spring of 2016, just 3 seasons away.
As you might have guessed, the reason it has taken the Outlander Plug-In Hybrid so long to get to the US is its popularity overseas. It was initially supposed to arrive in the US in 2013, and was unveiled at the LA Auto Show in 2009. But huge sales in Europe and Japan ate up battery supply and made it impractical for Mitsubishi to release the vehicle in the US until it could increase supply or until demand trailed off in Europe and Japan. It doesn’t seem like demand is trailing off, so I presume that Mitsubishi’s battery supplier is able to get it more batteries these days.
The Mitsubishi Outlander Plug-In Hybrid is actually now getting a mid-cycle refresh, so at least the US will get an updated version of the popular SUV.
With a 12-kWh battery pack, the Outlander Plug-In just has about 30 miles (50 kilometers) of range on the New European Driving Cycle, which means its real-world electric range is probably closer to 20 miles. After that, it lives on gasoline. Still, though, 20–30 miles is enough for most trips, offering the joys and efficiency of electric driving in a spacious SUV.
Of course, rather than being the first plug-in SUV on the US market (as it would have been in 2013, 2014, or even most of 2015), it will arrive after the Tesla Model X starts hitting garages, and even after the arrival of the 2016 BMW X5 xDrive 40e plug-in hybrid SUV. Will that hurt its sales? Maybe. But an updated model, more electricity-aware public, and Mitsubishi sales momentum from the experiences in Europe and Japan may make up for the sales lost to increased competition. I’m certainly eager to see how well the model does in the SUV-loving US.