Mitsubishi show electrified concept car, while Lexus, Nissan shows electric

Each car maker has its own idea of applying electric technology to cars. This week the Tokyo Auto Show gives the Japanese car makers a chance to show their concepts, and while Lexus and Nissan show electric concept cars, Mitsubishi is sticking with its PHEV design despite having had one of the early electric cars (the i-MiEV).

Lexus LF-30 Electrified Concept – Source: Toyota

Lexus LF-30 Electrified Concept SUV

Strangely, while the LF-30 SUV is a battery electric vehicle, the Lexus press release liberally uses the word Electrified. Given that Lexus is Toyota, and Toyota has been poo-pooing battery electrics for years, the initial scan of the Lexus press release had me grumbling about Lexus/Toyota still resisting electric vehicles. But a closer read reveals an interesting SUV.

What Lexus is doing is to rest on the laurels of its widely regarded hybrid SUV’s. They discuss a “Lexus Electrified” vision of “a fundamental leap in vehicle performance, handling, control and driver enjoyment,” “autonomous driving,” and “vehicle electrification”. This includes development of “advanced posture control and other electrification technologies” and other stuff learned from Lexus’ hybrid vehicles like “battery management, power control modules, and electric motors”. Then finally Lexus says “the technology of Lexus Electrified enables integrated control of powertrain, steering, suspension, and brakes, realizing the ultimate potential of the motor control technology cultivated in HV.”

All of which leaves me scratching my head, wondering just what I read, and then remembering the paradigm used by one of my favorite news commentators: Don’t listen to what they say, but watch what they do.

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“Lexus plans to unveil its first BEV in November 2019” adding it to the lineup of Hybrid, Plug-in Hybrid, and Fuel Cell vehicles offered by Toyota.

“By 2025, Lexus will have available electrified versions of all Lexus vehicle models” — Note the electrified word, giving Lexus/Toyota the option to claim that having a hybrid drive train option for every vehicle is enough.

The LF-30 Electrified Concept SUV – despite using the word electrified, it seems in this case they mean an all-electric SUV. The styling is broadly borrowing from the Tesla Model X, witness the gull-wing doors. The pictures attached to the press release has all the impracticality of a concept car that will never come to market.

The main focus seems to be on autonomous driving. What does that mean to the passengers, what kind of control systems etc, and what does it mean in the drive train. For the drive system, Lexus is integrating all sorts of computerized control since the AI software driving the car will be in charge of everything.

Nissan iMk and Ariya concept electric cars – Source: Nissan

The Nissan iMK and Ariya concept electric cars

Nissan was an early leader in the current wave of electric cars – the Nissan Leaf was for a time the most popular electric car. With the iMk and Ariya concept cars, Nissan is claiming to be showing an “all new design direction for the EV era”.

One may recall that Nissan Intelligent Mobility is not just about electric drive trains, but about autonomous driving. A couple years ago Nissan pledged a goal of not only zero emissions, but zero fatalities. In this press release Executive Design Director Satoru Tai discusses Japanese Minimalism and traits like “traits of iki (chic), utsuroi (transition), ma (spatiotemporal openings) and kabuku (behave boldly against the social grain)”.

The Nissan iMk is a compact urban commuter car for folks wanting “new, chic, compact and powerful to drive.” The Ariya, on the other hand, “provides a glimpse of a near-future midsize crossover EV from Nissan.”

Mitsubishi Motors Corporation presents the MI-TECH CONCEPT, a small-sized electrified SUV concept car.

Mitsubishi embraces PHEV

What happened to Mitsubishi, one of the early pioneers of electric cars? While many panned the Mitsubishi i-MiEV, I found it to be a fun car to drive. But we’re here to talk about Mitsubishi’s showing at the Tokyo Auto Show, not rehash old times.

The MI-TECH is a “buggy”, as in “beach buggy”, but with design traits that seem to come out of sports cars. Obviously this will never be produced as is. The idea is said to be a “small plug-in hybrid electric SUV that delivers unparalleled driving pleasure and confidence over all terrain in light and wind.” In any case, skipping to the drive train we learn it is a PHEV using a gas turbine engine-generator which likely means this is a series hybrid, meaning the generator does not directly drive the wheels. Further, the turbine is designed to run on “a variety of fuels such as diesel, kerosene and alcohol which can be selected depending on the regions.”

The SUPER HEIGHT K-WAGON CONCEPT is a boxy car of the sort popular in Asia, which the press release describes as a “next-generation super height Kei wagon”. No word is said about its drive train.

The MITSUBISHI ENGELBERG TOURER uses the drive train of the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, putting it in a vehicle that looks like a Toyota Land Cruiser. Of the three this looks to be the most likely to make it to a production vehicle.

It adds new electrification (there’s that word again) capability to the drive train used in the Outlander PHEV. This includes dual electric motors, an electric driving range of 70 kilometers, and a total range of 700 kilometers.

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LEXUS PRESENTS ITS VISION OF FUTURE ELECTRIFICATION WITH THE WORLD PREMIERE OF THE LF-30 ELECTRIFIED CONCEPT

  • Lexus Electrified vision promises unmatched driver fulfillment and enjoyment of automobiles.
  • ‘LF-30 Electrified’ new concept embodies the vision of Lexus’ electrification
  • Futuristic exterior foreshadows the Lexus Electrified vehicles towards 2030
  • An innovative, interior that leverages autonomous driving technologies, a newly designed cockpit, and other advancements
  • Boasting four in-wheel electric motors, steering by wire, and Lexus Advanced Posture Control, LF-30 can offer a dynamic experience unlike any currently available

TOKYO (October 23, 2019) – In its continued efforts to deliver innovative and amazing experiences, Lexus unveiled its “Lexus Electrified” vision for an upcoming generation of electrified vehicles. Headlining this moment was the debut of the Lexus LF-30 Electrified Concept, which made its world premiere at the 46th Tokyo Motor Show 2019.

Since the brand’s creation in 1989, Lexus has endeavored to deliver to its customers innovative and amazing product and brand experiences that stimulate the five senses. Since the launch of the RX 400h in 2005, Lexus has led the world as a pioneer in electrification technologies such as the two-stage reduction gear and the multi-stage hybrid system which leverage technology to offer excellent performance and the direct driving sensation characteristic of Lexus Hybrid vehicles.

The “Lexus Electrified” vision unveiled today targets a fundamental leap in vehicle performance, handling, control and driver enjoyment — even as mobility within our society continues to change with autonomous driving and vehicle electrification.

Evoking the original fun of driving, Lexus is developing new advanced posture control and other electrification technologies to further evolve driving pleasure, and to fundamentally transform the essence of luxury vehicles of the future. Towards this end, Lexus is drawing on the lessons learned developing the core technologies found in Lexus’ popular range of gasoline-electric hybrids, including battery management, power control modules, and electric motors. In particular, the technology of Lexus Electrified enables integrated control of powertrain, steering, suspension, and brakes, realizing the ultimate potential of the motor control technology cultivated in HV. With this technology, we can control the driving force to provide ideal vehicle posture according to each driving situation. Lexus endeavors to continue providing enjoyable and safer driving vehicles.

To advance this goal, Lexus plans to unveil its first BEV in November 2019 – broadening its response to the needs of various regions around the world, including the development of HEVs, PHEVs, BEVs, and FCEVs. Moving forward after that, Lexus plans to expand its electrified vehicle lineup – launching its first PHEV and a new dedicated BEV platform early in the coming decade. By 2025, Lexus will have available electrified versions of all Lexus vehicle models, and we are aiming for the sales of electrified vehicle models to outpace those of conventional internal combustion engine vehicle models.

Lexus LF-30 Electrified Highlights

The LF-30 Electrified concept vehicle embodies the “Lexus Electrified” vision. For its exterior styling the advanced image expected of a BEV has been channeled into artistic qualities that result in a futuristic form, and an interior that assertively weaves in autonomous driving and other new technologies aims to manifest Lexus’ distinctive worldview. Performance is rooted in Lexus Electrified components, adding Lexus’ latest technology to its leadership in development of HEV systems. Precise electric motor control enables instantaneous adjustments to posture not possible with conventional vehicles. Furthermore, the LF-30 Electrified employs numerous advanced technologies with a look ahead to the year 2030- such as a new-concept cockpit based on a human-centered design philosophy and a steer-by-wire system.

Futuristic exterior foreshadows the Lexus Electrified vehicles towards 2030

  • In taking up the challenge of expressing a new design that could only be achieved with a BEV powered by in-wheel electric motors, Lexus visually articulated the LF-30 Electrified’s unique energy flow. The vehicle form is meant to visually express the energy created by the wheels set at the corners of the vehicle body streaming toward the vehicle cabin and past the driver to directly flow onto the road surface.
  • Taking advantage of a hoodless vehicle shape made possible by being a BEV, Lexus’ signature “spindle” form has been further evolved to span the entire vehicle architecture. The window glass, which continually stretches from the front to rear, the muscular fenders, and the wing-shaped headlights form the contours of the Lexus iconic spindle. The shape of the body is fashioned with an elegantly flowing front which transitions into a linear and sharp rear. In addition to the wing-shaped headlights, the sharpness of the rear lights and side air intakes combine to achieve both excellent aerodynamics and cooling performance, resulting in styling fused with function.

The opacity of the side windows can be freely adjusted, providing occupants with expansive views of the surrounding scenery and a high level of privacy at night and in other situations. The color of the front face of the vehicle and luminescence patterns help identify from the outside whether the vehicle is being operated in its normal mode or in its autonomous driving mode, reflecting Lexus’ pursuit of both a high level of styling and functionality. The exterior color ‘voltaic sky’ employs a leading-edge metal-infused coating to achieve a unique quality tinted by a touch of blue-green.

Innovative, interior that leverages autonomous driving technologies, a newly designed cockpit, and more

To manifest in a higher dimension Lexus’ fundamental human-centered philosophy, the cockpit was designed based on the new Lexus concept of “Tazuna.” Inspired by how a single rein can be used to achieve mutual understanding between horse and rider, the steering controller-mounted switches and head-up display have been coordinated to a high degree, creating a space that enables the driver to focus on driving while controlling various functions, such as the navigation and audio system and driving-mode selection, without having to shift one’s vision or operate manual switches. As an indication of the future image of a Tazuna cockpit, the LF-30 Electrified employs next-generation interfaces, such as gesture control and enhanced presentation of vehicle information through AR (augmented reality). The resulting interior is one that provides comfort and convenience for both driver and passengers.

With the layout of the front passenger seat echoing that of a first-class seat on an airliner, the interior is one in which a sense of openness and a sense of envelopment coexist. All switches and other controls being comfortably within reach and a gesture-control large-screen display for the passenger seat add to the achievement of interior comfort and convenience.

The rear seats use artificial muscle technology to mold to their occupant, and can support various modes such as reclining, relaxation, and alert functions. A Mark Levinson® audio system creates a next-generation listening environment, in which minute speaker control establishes ideal acoustic spaces for music listening pleasure for the driver and each passenger, and speakers built into the headrests not only provide an optimal audio environment but also have a noise-cancelling feature that contributes to enhanced quietness.

A glass roof above the rear seats features voice control and a gesture controlled “SkyGate” display window that uses AR to display various types of information, such as a realistic star-filled sky, user-favorite videos, and even navigation.

In addition to its unique design, the interior also indicates the direction of next-generation luxury by using sustainable materials to reduce environmental burden. Yakisugi (charred cedar), a traditional Japanese material, is used in the floor and steering controller while recycled metal was processed into fibers for use in creating the pleated door trim. This approach expresses Lexus’ distinctiveness and innovative spirit.

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With in-wheel electric motors, steering by wire, and Lexus Advanced Posture Control, the LF30 can offer a dynamic experience unlike any currently available

To achieve a fundamental leap in vehicle performance, handling, control and driver enjoyment, the LF-30 employs numerous state-of-the-art technologies even beyond advanced posture control. In-wheel electric motors for each of the vehicle’s four wheels and low positioning of the battery enable better handling of inertia and high-level driving performance. Autonomous driving technologies and drone support vehicle technologies look ahead to the year 2030 and the widely expanded value that vehicles can offer.

Lexus Advanced Posture Control technology regulates the drive-power output from high-torque electric motors to adjust vehicle posture in tune with human sensibilities. Completely independent control of front and rear drive wheels allows appropriate provision of front-wheel drive, rear-wheel drive, and all-wheel drive, depending on the driving situation. Compact and lightweight drive-power units expand freedom in vehicle packaging and are used to enable the driver to enjoy ideal driving, regardless of the road surface or driving conditions.

Positioning Lexus Advanced Posture Control technology as a core element of the ‘Lexus Electrified’ vision, Lexus intends to widely apply this technology throughout its lineup of electrified vehicles.

The steer-by-wire system eliminates a mechanical connection to allow more flexible turning control depending on driving conditions, and a more precise steering feel aligned with the driver’s intention. It also contributes to a greater sense of openness by allowing the steering controller can be shifted forward and out of the way during autonomous driving.

As a next-generation BEV, LF-30 uses wireless charging technology to simplify daily charging, and AI-based energy management to enable optimal distribution of electric power to both the vehicle and the home, and charging control coordinated with the user’s daily schedule.

Onboard AI distinguishes the voices of vehicle occupants, and uses personalized information stored on the driver’s control key to serve as a partner. It facilitates the adjustment of elements of the interior environment, such as air temperature and audio, and the setting of navigation routes and destinations, while also making proposals for activities after arrival. It also understands the driver’s preferences and helps them control the suspension and powertrain settings in real-time according to the driving scene.

The LF-30 Electrified also carries the ‘Lexus Airporter’ drone-technology support vehicle. Using autonomous control, the Lexus Airporter is capable of such tasks as independently transporting baggage from a household doorstep to the vehicle’s luggage area.

Based on the latest autonomous driving technology concept of ‘Lexus Teammate’, the LF-30 Electrified features advanced driving support functions in the form of a Chauffeur mode and a Guardian mode. Occupants can enjoy both comfort and peace of mind during autonomous driving with advanced posture control technology being employed. Furthermore, a self-parking function and a front-door pickup function in which the LF-30 Electrified autonomously moves from driveway to doorstep provide an especially high level of convenience.

In addition to the LF-30 Electrified exhibition, the Lexus booth at Tokyo Motor Show will contain “Lexus Senses theatre,” a space where people can experience the “stimulation of the five senses.” It consists of two experience spaces, audio and visual. In Theater 1, the sensual engine sound of Lexus LFA stimulates hearing with 360° 3D sound.

Theater 2 offers a visually stimulating experience with the Lexus LC model by projection mapping – which changes its appearance according to the time of day and the viewing angle. In this booth layout you can appreciate the Lexus philosophy, while enjoying sensory stimulation through “real experience.”

NISSAN’S IMK AND ARIYA CONCEPTS: AN ALL-NEW DESIGN DIRECTION FOR THE EV ERA

TOKYO – Embedded in a hillside deep in Japan’s Kanagawa prefecture lies Nissan’s Global Design Center. There, Executive Design Director Satoru Tai focuses on Nissan’s next design horizon – a new direction that speaks in simple, clean lines.

Tai-san sees a future where less is more in terms of what we see and what we interact with in our daily lives. His first teaser of Nissan’s design direction was the IMk concept, revealed earlier this month as a prelude to the 46th Tokyo Motor Show. The vision has come fully into focus at the show with the unveiling of the bold Ariya Concept. Together, these electric vehicles promise to usher in a new era of design made possible by Nissan Intelligent Mobility, the company’s vision for changing how vehicles are powered, driven and connected to society.

The Nissan Ariya Concept – the successor to the IMx concept vehicle shown at the 2017 Tokyo Motor Show – provides a glimpse of a near-future midsize crossover EV from Nissan. The IMk reimagines the compact urban commuter, catering to a broad customer base in search of something new, chic, compact and powerful to drive. The two vehicles represent Nissan’s completely reimagined design philosophy, centered on seamless connectivity and a minimal, cohesive design, mixed with pure electrified power.

In a recent interview, Tai expanded on Nissan’s new design direction and how it seamlessly blends into the customer’s connected lifestyle.

Q1: Why did Nissan establish a new design direction?

Tai: The Ariya Concept and IMk are the latest design icons of Nissan Intelligent Mobility. They are bookends that showcase the broad spectrum of the Nissan Intelligent Mobility landscape, from the urban commuter to the family-size crossover SUV. Both vehicles embody the possibilities of instant, clean, powerful driving performance in a seamless manner. They express the connectivity and autonomous capability of the coming era in a distinct, Nissan-branded way.

Q2: What are the key points of the new design language?

Tai: Nissan’s new design philosophy centers on a Japanese minimal approach to accent advanced technology that blends seamlessly into the two concept vehicles and a customer’s lifestyle. These serve as key elements in what we call “Timeless Japanese Futurism.” A minimal approach mainly refers to the physical form – such as the IMk’s simple, yet striking exterior shape or Ariya Concept’s sleek body that minimizes drag coefficient. These seamless expressions display the potential of EVs and future driving technology in a distinctly Japanese way.

Timeless Japanese Futurism is a way for Nissan to maintain an iconic, traditional Japanese flavor, but reimagined with a refreshing perspective.

Q3: What are some examples of “traditional Japanese flavor” in these vehicles?

Tai: Both the Ariya Concept and the IMk feature designs that incorporate Japanese DNA, or “J-DNA”. These include the traits of iki (chic), utsuroi (transition), ma (spatiotemporal openings) and kabuku (behave boldly against the social grain). For the Ariya Concept, we incorporated a geometric kumiko pattern into the front grille, or what we now call the “shield,” which blends seamlessly into the clearcoat. This pattern is also echoed in the interior with the andon lighting, which shows the openness of the footwell and the doors.

For the IMk, we drew from a different inspiration that resulted in a koushi (latticed) pattern and mizuhiki (tight woven rope) pattern. This is echoed in the shield and on the roof graphic, rear accents and wheels.

Q4: Why is this “Japanese minimalist” trait important?

Tai: We needed to reset how we design, because the way these vehicles are powered and used has changed. EV technology is here – and the entire mindset, from architecture to noise – is quite different than a traditional internal combustion engine vehicle.

EVs are quiet and powerful, so we wanted to reflect that in our vehicles with a design language that’s clean and minimal, yet still emotional, powerful, attractive and sleek. It’s not easy to represent an entirely new automotive movement with something that’s visually simple.

Q5: What did you focus on in particular with these two vehicles?

Tai: It’s all about the proportion and the potential offered by 100% electric platforms. So we asked ourselves, how do we tailor the design over this new unique platform? How do we showcase the proportions?

For the Ariya Concept, we started with an elevated stance and a sleek, linear body, expressing motion sitting on large wheels. Satin copper arches highlight the airy, flat floor cabin to create something drastically different from conventional gasoline-powered SUVs. The Ariya Concept’s EV platform allows for D-segment roominess in a C-segment vehicle.

With the IMk, we wanted to convey not just visual seamlessness, but also seamlessness in terms of connectivity, evident by its prismatic instrument and control panel layout. This will inspire a later phase of Nissan Intelligent Mobility form language and design.

Q6: Do these concept vehicles share any similar elements?

Tai: The exteriors of both strike a balance between beautiful and exclusive, with proportions that show what’s possible with Nissan’s 100% EV platforms. For both concepts, the front view makes a strong impression. The grille is replaced with a “shield” that incorporates an illuminated Nissan emblem in the center. The lower portion is bordered by subtle lighting.

The shield is the vehicle’s face to the world. It needs to show strength, style and inspiration. A grille is no longer needed for engine cooling, but a shield is very much needed to protect the technology hidden within the vehicles, including radar, cameras and other sensors, such as those that help the vehicle read the road when using the ProPILOT 2.0 driver assistance system.

Q7: Other than size, what are the main differences between the IMk’s interior and that of the Ariya Concept?

Tai: For the Ariya Concept, the interior is slightly darker and moodier than the IMk. We tried to use darker colors on the lower sections and lighter colors above to create a cohesive, layered environment that welcomes you into a futuristic, organic space.

The Ariya Concept’s colors are a deep blue gray. For the IMk they’re much lighter, and airy, like that of a cafe or a chic lounge. The use of colors and textures is really the difference between the two. The vehicles are vastly different in size and class but share qualities that make them chic and appropriate for customers interested in those types of vehicles.

Q8: What about the materials? Not only the types, but also the placement?

Tai: Designers are always searching for new materials and textures, to make interiors engaging and enjoyable. We considered materials that didn’t look heavy, yet gave the impression of solidness, high tech and functional.

For example, in the IMk, the surfaces are treated with anti-soiling agents to prevent stains and fingerprints. The lighter color, which isn’t traditional for a car in this class, is very trendy in home interiors and cafes. We wanted to create that light and airy environment in the IMk, while keeping it durable.

The IMk’s carpet is made of a new fiber that creates an open atmosphere but still feels very cozy. This is one of the many elements that make this vehicle very chic.

Copper tones are used throughout both concept vehicles, adding brightness to the interior and enhancing the premium impression. Copper has been an important part of traditional Japanese culture, in which artisans formed the metal into functional works of art. We carefully curated the use of copper to add an emotional value that communicates the dawn of a new automotive era – rather than simply using expensive materials or shiny textiles.

Q9: The IMk’s interior is unusually elegant and stylish for a kei-car. What were your priorities in designing the cabin?

Tai: The IMk’s cabin possesses a feeling of openness. The shapes and color details are designed to suggest an uplifting space. We wanted the IMk to be chic, so we gave it a bench seat to create the same welcome feeling as a lounge or cafe. We also wanted to keep some richness in the section of the doors, the instrument panel and even the seats, by giving them the right texture through their materials.

Of course, if we kept everything flat here, there would be more physical space. But we would lose some of the beauty, and we didn’t want to go that route. The IMk isn’t about being more spacious than a traditional small car. The goal is to be an upscale, stylish partner with a relaxing space that drivers will really want to own.

Q10: The IMk concept is the size of a kei car in Japan. How did the new concept EV platform influence its design?

Tai: The IMk is a car for people who’ve never before considered buying a vehicle of this size. The electrification of this urban commuter, and the EV platform, elevate the genre to a completely new level. It will capture a new marketplace, such as luxury-car owners in Tokyo who want stylish exclusivity and great performance, yet still want to be able to find a place to park. The level of sophistication and chic textures is unmatched in the segment.

Q11: What about the new EV platform under the Nissan Ariya Concept?

Tai: The EV platform allows the Ariya Concept to have a flat cabin floor. This results in extremely efficient packaging, with a more open footwell and thinner instrument panel and seats. This in turn allows for a pleasant space for the driver and occupants to relax and socialize. However, because of the flat floor, all the interior materials are much more visible. Traditionally, the floor of the cabin is hidden by shadows and overhanging interior components.

Now, every design element is front and center, especially the instrument panel and seats. So it was vital that we used complementary materials and colors, ensuring that the components blended with each other seamlessly.

Q12: Who did you consider to be the target customers for these vehicles?

Tai: For the Nissan Ariya Concept, the target customer is a young driver with a family. We really wanted this car to be an expression of that person. Ideally, I see this person as someone who can afford anything but chooses this vehicle, because it relays a strong EV message in a cool, sporty way.

For the Nissan IMk concept, we envisioned customers who’ll feel empowered and confident when driving this car. The stylish and comfortable interior design elements make it their own unique room to relax in. Therefore, we tried to think about the various aspects of their daily lives and express them in the design, inside and out.

Q13: Was any part of the Nissan Ariya Concept – which we hear may be close to production – designed with fully autonomous driving in mind?

Tai: As Nissan’s design language moves forward, we always have to keep autonomous driving in mind – for today and for expanded use tomorrow.

The Ariya Concept was designed with the latest ProPILOT 2.0 driver assistance system in mind. This system allows for hands-off, eyes-on driving in certain cases. During those situations, you can stretch your legs all the way out, relax and enjoy the benefits of the EV interior architecture. It allows for a new spatial experience, highlighted by the andon lighting in the lower footwell. This is not only an attractive design element, but also effectively shows the usability of space.

Q14: What do you want people to take away from these concepts?

Tai: These concepts show how we’re redefining the form language for Nissan. Both the Ariya Concept and IMk incorporate hints of Japanese DNA with their minimal approach to surfaces and shape, yet are seamless and state-of-the-art. This is the concept of “Timeless Japanese Futurism.” The word minimal is self-evident, but seamless goes deeper. It has both a physical quality, such as flush exterior door handles and smooth panel transitions, as well as a spiritual one, in the way it expresses both Nissan Intelligent Mobility technology and Japanese precision and craftsmanship. Combined, these concepts will define the future of Nissan design.

WORLD PREMIERES: MITSUBISHI MOTORS MI-TECH CONCEPT BUGGY-TYPE ELECTRIFIED SUV CONCEPT, SUPER HEIGHT K-WAGON CONCEPT KEI

WORLD PREMIERES OF MITSUBISHI MOTORS MI-TECH CONCEPT BUGGY-TYPE ELECTRIFIED SUV CONCEPT CAR AND SUPER HEIGHT K-WAGON CONCEPT KEI CAR AT TOKYO MOTOR SHOW 2019

Tokyo, October 23, 2019 – MITSUBISHI MOTORS CORPORATION (MMC) today unveiled the MI-TECH CONCEPT*1 small-sized electrified SUV concept car, MI-TECH CONCEPT, and the SUPER HEIGHT K-WAGON CONCEPT Kei car at Tokyo Motor Show 2019*2.

Takao Kato, chief executive officer, MMC, and Ashwani Gupta, chief operating officer, MMC, presented those vehicles at the press conference and explained MMC’s electrification strategy.

“We are dedicated to electrification technology, particularly plug-in hybrids (PHEVs),” Kato said. “We will be expanding our lineup of electrified vehicles by delivering more variations and leveraging the diverse electrification technology in the alliance to make MMC the leader in the PHEV category going forward.”

Gupta added that MMC plans to employ any of its electrification technologies to new midsize and compact SUV by 2022 as well as Kei car in the near future.

As for the SUPER HEIGHT K-WAGON CONCEPT, the company announced that it is the second wave of the next-generation Kei cars, and plans to release it by the end of this fiscal year.

1. Overview of MI-TECH CONCEPT

The MI-TECH CONCEPT was built to be “small plug-in hybrid electric SUV that delivers unparalleled driving pleasure and confidence over all terrain in light and wind.” This concept car embodies the MMC brand statement “Drive Your Ambition”*3 with a lightweight, compact, new PHEV drivetrain, a four-motor electric 4WD system, and advanced driver assist and preventive safety technologies—all packed into the small-sized electrified SUV.

(1) Dynamic Buggy Type Design
Under the concept of “Stimulates the driver’s adventure”, the MI-TECH CONCEPT is designed to be a dynamic buggy-type vehicle that embodies the very essence of Mitsubishi-ness.

A sense of progressiveness as an electric vehicle is expressed through the light blue body color and a secondary copper color in a motor coil motif on the grille, inner wheels, and interior.

The front end adopts MMC’s signature Dynamic Shield new front design concept. It uses a satin plated color in the center of the grille, and copper as a secondary color to accentuate its expressiveness as an electrified vehicle.

T-shaped headlights are embedded in the front end to emphasize a distinguishing outward appearance.

On the lower bumper, aluminum skid plate is placed on both sides to protect the body, while the interior has an air intake.

On the sides, the highly raised overfenders and large diameter tires project a high level of mobility plus power as an SUV, as well as the stability to thoroughly grip the terrain. The body radiates grandeur and sharpness with a design reminiscent of a metal ingot carved in a cutting machine, while the use of a side step on the carved sides balances utility with design.

The rear-end was designed with large and bold hexagon carved from metal ingot to emphasize the robustness of SUV. The T-shaped tail lamp shared the same design pattern used on the front end.

Inside, a horizontal instrument panel and functional design makes handling easier. The horizontal theme is further accentuated by copper lines added on the instrument panel and steering wheel. Keyboard-shaped switches are positioned atop a center console with a horizontal theme, and the front handgrip also functions as a hand pad to make the switches easy to operate. Functions are presented in a straightforward manner, easy to understand just by seeing them and with a reassuring feel when pressed.

MMC emphasizes a design that gives driver extra peace of mind. The front window shield presents all the relevant information in graphics such as car behavior, terrain recognition, and optimal route guidance.

(2) Light, compact PHEV drivetrain
The power generator in the new PHEV drivetrain is a lightweight, compact gas turbine engine-generator in place of the traditional gasoline engine. As environmental awareness grows and downsizing progresses, the concept explores the technological proposition to plug the PHEV drivetrain into a small SUV. The gas turbine engine-generator has a powerful output for its size and weight.

Another benefit of the gas turbine is its flexibility to run on a variety of fuels such as diesel, kerosene and alcohol which can be selected depending on the regions. Further, its exhaust is clean so it responds to environmental and energy issues.

(3) Electric 4WD system
MMC took pride to apply its S-AWC*4 Integrated Vehicle Dynamics Control System to a Quad Motor 4WD System with front and rear Dual-Motor Active Yaw Control (AYC)*5 units. Making the brake calipers electric has also allowed for high response, high accuracy control of drive and braking force of the four wheels while delivering a drastic improvement in turning and traction performance. When driving off-road and two wheels are spinning out, the ability to transmit the optimal driving force to all four wheels makes it possible to transmit force to the two wheels still on the ground and keep driving. MMC has thus delivered a safe, exhilarating driving experience in which the driver feels with the vehicle in all conditions, either in daily driving or when traversing rough roads, while also allowing for thrilling new driving experiences such as 180-degree spins by counter-rotating the left and right tires.

(4) Advanced driver assistance and preventive safety technologies
The vehicle comes equipped with Human Machine Interface (HMI) which displays various information detected through sensing technology including advanced optical sensors on an augmented reality (AR) windshield. With vehicle, road, and surrounding traffic conditions shown on the AR windshield, drivers can make accurate, heads-up decisions even in poor visibility.

Equipped also with MI-PILOT, next-generation driver assistance technology, the concept car extends driver support not only on freeways and ordinary roads, but also on unpaved roads.

2. Overview of SUPER HEIGHT K-WAGON CONCEPT

The SUPER HEIGHT K-WAGON CONCEPT is a next-generation super height Kei wagon that caters to drivers who want to go more places and longer distances. Offering the wide-open passenger space of a super height Kei wagon, it delivers the performance and functionality required in that vehicle category but with a design that expresses the unique flavor of MMC’s SUVs.

(1) Design that expresses powerful SUV flavor
MMC’s Dynamic Shield front design concept was used for the front face, with a coated steel bar perpendicular to a horizontally-themed grille.

Its side view exudes power, with a cabin silhouette that utilizes a long wheelbase and sculpted, active character lines. At the same time, the side sill garnish and wheel arches were made black to accentuate the character and uniqueness of an SUV.
Designed with a color scheme to evoke the personality of drivers who want to be active outdoors, its body color is a two-tone combinations of olive green and white, with the silver roof rails. The wheels incorporate the same colors as body, producing an all-around unified appearance.

(2) Comfort at the top of its class, with a sophisticated interior
Offering the wide-open passenger space of a super height Kei wagon, passenger space was maximized in the back seats in particular with family use in mind. With the largest rear door opening and back seat legroom in its class, passengers have plenty of space to relax.

Its chic, premium interior uses brown as a main theme, with orange appearing ubiquitously as a secondary color. Synthetic leather is covered with diamond quilting for the seats to create a high quality feel.

(3) Brisk road performance with advanced driver assistance technology and safety equipped with a high-performance engine and CVT, the SUPER HEIGHT K-WAGON CONCEPT delivers brisk, stress-free road performance in low-speed and high-speed zones.

Incorporating the e-Assist preventive safety technology package—including MI-PILOT single-lane driver assistance on highways, a braking system that mitigates damage from collisions, and collision prevention assistance for pedal misapplication—that qualifies for Support Car S Wide safety classification by the Japanese government, MMC has eased the burden on the driver while providing safety and peace of mind to all passengers.

3. Overview of the MITSUBISHI ENGELBERG TOURER

The MITSUBISHI ENGELBERG TOURER, an SUV with three-row seats, evolves MMC’s own Twin Motor PHEV drivetrain developed in the Outlander PHEV with the addition of next-generation electrification technology and four-wheel control.

(1) PHEV drivetrain
The high-capacity drive battery comes installed under the floor in the center of the vehicle. While it employs the Twin Motor system that places high-output, high-efficiency motors at both the front and the rear, the PHEV drivetrain has been made more compact and the layout has been optimized to deliver more passenger space and make it possible to offer a package with three rows of seats.

The MITSUBISHI ENGELBERG TOURER has an EV cruising range of more than 70 kilometers (km) (WLTP)*6, and with a fully charged battery and full fuel tank it has a total cruising range of more than 700 km (WLTP). This allows the smooth, powerful yet quiet ride characteristic of electric vehicles to continue even longer.

(2) 4WD System
The system employs AYC to control the distribution of drive power among the front two wheels, along with full-time 4WD with the Twin Motor system that places high-output, high-efficiency motors at both the front and the rear. These are combined with MMC’s Super All Wheel Control (S-AWC) integrated vehicle behavior control system which dramatically boosts driving performance – driving, cornering, and stopping – by integrating control of braking force at each wheel (Anti-Lock Braking System – ABS) and the front and rear motor output (Active Stability Control – ASC*7).

  • *1: The “M” in the name “MI-TECH” is for Mitsubishi, while the “I” is for intelligent, ingenious, and inspired. “Tech” is short for technology, altogether expressing how the vehicle is loaded with an abundance of MMC’s technologies of the future.
  • *2: October 23th and 24th are Press Days, while the show is open to the public from October 25th through November 4th.
  • *3: “Drive your Ambition” is MMC’s brand statement signaling the company’s commitment to making cars that meet the aspirations of drivers who want to expand their horizons and take on new challenges.
  • *4: Super All Wheel Control.
  • *5: Active Yaw Control. The system that controls the driving and braking forces between the left and right wheels by accurately judging both driver operation and vehicle behavior based on information about steering angle, yaw rate, driving torque, brake pressure, wheel speed, and other parameters. Its result is vehicle behavior that is faithful to the driver’s operation.
  • *6: The Worldwide Harmonized Light Vehicle Test Procedure (WLTP) laboratory test is used to measure fuel consumption and CO2 emissions at urban road/rural road/highway in the average time of several usage.
  • *7: Active Stability Control. A system that reduces instability in vehicle behavior that results from slippery road surfaces and sudden steering operations.

About Mitsubishi Motors North America

Through a network of more than 360 dealer partners across the United States, Mitsubishi Motors North America, Inc. (MMNA), is responsible for the sales, research and development, marketing and customer service of Mitsubishi Motors vehicles in the U.S. 2018 marked the brand’s sixth consecutive year of sales growth.

Currently located in Cypress, California – and soon to be relocating to Franklin, Tennessee – MMNA is a part of the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance. Mitsubishi continues to lead the way in the development of highly efficient, affordably priced new gasoline-powered automobiles, while using its industry-leading knowledge in battery-electric vehicles to develop future EV and PHEV models.

For more information on Mitsubishi vehicles, please contact the Mitsubishi Motors News Bureau at (888) 560-6672 or visit media.mitsubishicars.com.

About David Herron

David Herron is a writer and software engineer living in Silicon Valley. He primarily writes about electric vehicles, clean energy systems, climate change, peak oil and related issues. When not writing he indulges in software projects and is sometimes employed as a software engineer. David has written for sites like PlugInCars and TorqueNews, and worked for companies like Sun Microsystems and Yahoo.

About David Herron

David Herron is a writer and software engineer living in Silicon Valley. He primarily writes about electric vehicles, clean energy systems, climate change, peak oil and related issues. When not writing he indulges in software projects and is sometimes employed as a software engineer. David has written for sites like PlugInCars and TorqueNews, and worked for companies like Sun Microsystems and Yahoo.

One Comment

  1. Toyota has ignored the EV space, but is making up for that with in-wheel motors, 150KW wireless charging, and enabling “distribution of electric power to both the vehicle and the home” (no details there, though it begs for an explanation). All really great stuff, but I’m especially intrigued by its in-wheel motors. I’ve poked around, and could find no meaningful details.

    (Perhaps a post on in-wheel motors, with a look at known designs, manufacturers, and applications, and especially their huge implications for vehicle design and driving abilities? I feel certain they are the future, but perhaps that future is closer than we think. (There are a bunch of material science advances that make them even more inevitable, but I don’t think that’s required to explain where they are and can be expected to be in the very near future.)

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