Mitsubishi Missed Opportunity To Sell In US Over 10,000 Outlander PHEVs Annually

SEP 16 2015 BY MARK KANE 33

2016 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV

2016 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV

Although we understand Mitsubishi was met with some unexpected regulatory hurdles for the Outlander PHEV to overcome in order to start selling in the US (a battery/emissions monitoring device for deterioration), trying to understand Mitsubishi’s decision to not comply right out of the box, but rather delay the introduction of Outlander PHEV to implement the compliance with the refreshed model in US causes us a lot of headache.

In Europe, Outlander PHEV has been available since late 2013 and is already moving to 50,000 cumulative sales (75,000 with Japan included).

In the first half of this year, out of 25,837 Outlanders sold, more than 55% were PHEV (14,353) and overall sales of this model growing year-over year by some 40%.

“Regular” Outlander sales in the US reached 11,413 in eight months, but the recent introduction of new, refreshed Outlander increased sales to 2,188 in August (from just over 1,000 at the beginning of the year).

If we do the math and assume over 50% sales to be the PHEV version, and attraction of new consumers (who wouldn’t have considered the regular Outlander), we would expect at least 10,000 as base level of annual sales for Outlander PHEV, but it could be 15,000 or more.

Average sales of all Mitsubishis in the US is over 8,000 a month, so introduction of Outlander PHEV would make a huge difference, because it would bring more sales, drive growth and draw in consumers from other brands.

The delay cost Mitsubishi decent revenues and makes introduction more difficult due to more contenders.

Still, the AWD Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV will be introduced in the US in May of 2016 – about two and a half years after its launch in Europe.

Categories: Mitsubishi, Sales

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33 Comments on "Mitsubishi Missed Opportunity To Sell In US Over 10,000 Outlander PHEVs Annually"

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Mitsu missed out. Seems to me like it’s just plain poor management and planning.

I don’t think they will have a problem selling all the outlanders they can make without the U.S., so why delay progress by reengineering to meet lobbyist imposed barriers to entry to the market, what if those get changed again? They got a unique product with ev2home feature, excellent above average mpg and huge demand worldwide. I think they will do just fine.

I don’t disagree. I’m just mad it wasn’t here last year for me to buy…….lol

@ Michael Will:

Indeed. Anyone who asserts this was poor management on the part of Mitsubishi needs to provide evidence that they could have made substantially more Outlander PHEVs per year.

There is also the balance of trade and/or import fees to consider. Nissan built an auto assembly plant in Tennessee (USA) to build Leafs, partly to reduce their costs here. Obviously it wouldn’t pay Mitsubishi to do the same unless it was going to sell quite a few cars every year. And without an American assembly plant, Mitsubishi may not have been able to make a large enough profit margin to make it worthwhile selling here.

The fact that Mitsubishi is finally planning to bring the Outlander to the USA may have more to do with falling prices for batteries — and thus falling costs for Mitsubishi — than anything else.

There are a lot of factors to consider, and calling it poor planning by Mitsubishi is jumping rather far to a conclusion.

But Mitsubishi does have an assembly plant in Normal, Illinois. For some reason, Mitsubishi has chosen not to build the Outlander PHEV there and, in fact, has decided to close this plant due to low sales which could have been higher had the Outlander PHEV been built there.

Having owned and been impressed by an i-MiEV, I have always been mystified by Mitsubishi’s decisions that seem to negatively impact its U.S. business.

Forecasting sales of the Outlander PHEV based on a percentage of ICE sales of the same vehicle is really aiming low. If the Outlander had been introduced to the US market during the first year of global availability, it would have brought many people to Mitsubishi showrooms that would never visit otherwise. I think GM showed this effect already with the Volt.

The US missed out, because incentives in the EU nations where the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV sells the best are much more advantageous than here in the States.

For the Outlander PHEV in Europe, the PHEV’s success hinges on it being price competitive with their diesel version of the Outlander. They have enough incentives in various EU nations to actually come in below the diesel Outlander.

Given the higher price of fuel in the EU, and taxes based upon emissions, etc, that is a recipe for success.

In the US, the math doesn’t work out as well in most states, and the US is just one Republican President with a filibuster proof Senate away from all PHEV and EV incentives ending. And I’m not just making that up, it is right in the Republican’s budget proposal. They put it down on paper that they would end purchase incentives, and only do R&D funding for plug-ins.

Frankly, Mitsubishi was WAY smarter focusing on the EU and Japan markets first.

Outlander PHEV is sold in a lot of counties with no incentives in place, like Australia and New Zealand. Mitsubishi can only produce about 55,000 per year and they have sold all they could make. The US needs to increase their tax on petrol / gas and decrease the EV / PHEV incentives.

Mitsubishi PHEV is sold in my country, there never were government incentives here in the first place anyway (Australia). It sells more than all other plubin vehicles comnbined (Tesla, LEAF, i3, Volt)

but we never had California change the rules on us here, either.

That and Mitsubishi has legitimate diesel heritage and sales, its a lot simpler to justify a PHEV compared to a diesel than to a petrol vehicle.

They could add those small markets, because they knew small sales wouldn’t cut into their lucrative large markets.

The competition for large markets is just 3 markets:


Any other small markets have little impact on these big three, and aren’t worth talking about in this context of deciding which 2 out of these 3 markets they could choose to sell in. All 3 wasn’t an option. Adding additional very small markets didn’t change this decision of which 2 to choose.

Which two do you think they should have chosen?

Similar sales folly could be said about the Voltec Traverse or Equinox that never materialized.


Exactly. The is Volt is great . . . but GM is stupid for not putting it in more body styles.

GM has just confirmed that a Chevy Cruze hatchback is coming to the U.S.. Hopefully, that means the Volt might get a hatchback model also.

The Volt is and always has been a hatchback.

They certainly did.

But on the other hand, they did sell 10,000+ in Europe where they probably got a higher margin.

If they were battery constrained, it was probably a smart move. But they really need to get the Outlander PHEV in the USA before others get their SUV PHEVs out the door. They are losing their chance to be the first plug-in SUV. The Tesla Model X will now beat them to market. But they can still be the first PHEV SUV to market.

They lost it already. The XC-90 T8 will be here very soon. However, one could argue that the price point is different enough that Mitsu will still have a large market opportunity even after Volvo has satisfied their segment.

Yep, I forgot about that Volvo. But I forgot about it for the reason you mentioned . . . the price point is so high that it will remain a niche vehicle.

@ Mark Kane, The assumptions in this article are quite significant. I would suggest a more in-depth analysis of what actually needs to be done in order to bring the vehicle to the US, and less focus on the selling number. The fact that this is a comment = I can only touch on this briefly. The increase in sales on revised Outlander – is it due to fanfare (there are a “small” number of Mitsubishi fans, especially in the West Coast)? Is it due to rental or fleet? Is it due to former expiring lease exchanging for a new lease? Can that sales number sustain, say, for 1 year? Mind you, almost all vehicles have a pick up in sales whenever a revised model is introduced, too. Furthermore, it’s critical to look at the dealership network in the US, EVEN in California. A while back I was looking at the dealership network comparison between Nissan and Mitsubishi. I don’t have the numbers in the top of my heard, but in San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego – combined (hot bed for EVs), there are some 15-20 Mitsubishi dealers, vs some 15-20 Nissan dealers in JUST L.A. alone. You… Read more »

All the Mitsu dealers that have techs to service i-Mievs can service PHEV Outlanders as well.

They don’t have the dealership network of Nissan because Mitsu sells ~75k cars in the US per year vs ~1.3 Million for Nissan.

By the end of 2016 Chrysler will have the Town&Country PHEV and by the end of 2017 the Jeep PHEV.

Mitsu really screwed the pooch on this one and gave up a chance to relaunch their brand.

First Gen Outlander PHEV would have qualified for $5k Fed Incentive plus $1k from CA.

I’m with Mark on this one, I don’t think Mitsu will have much trouble sell 833/month (10k/year) of the Outlander PHEV once it finally arrives.

It’s really want a lot of plug-in buyers want. Utility vehicle, AWD, extended range, brand new MY/styling…and the pricing (at least in RoW) is close enough to ‘regular’ Outlander MSRPs that its a fairly easy upsell for existing customers.

It is basically what the Fusion Energi is (and the C-Max to some extent ex-pricing), but in a more desirable overall package. If it debuted in January of this year, it probably would have ended the year in the top 3 or 4 IMO.

Does anybody know more about the requirement for “a battery/emissions monitoring device for deterioration”?

Several EVs were introduced since this requirement were added, e.g. eGolf. How did they solve this?

Gas is too cheap in the US, no need to look further. Why do you think GM plans to only sell 30K Bolts per year ?

They’re doing that because GM sold way too many OPEC suckling/guzzlers and don’t have enough CARB credits.

Compliance cars.

Calling a car with annual sales of more than about 5000 a “compliance car” is really stretching the definition. Trying to apply that label to a car intended to sell 30,000 per year is simply wrong. Heck, the Leaf’s worldwide annual sales are only about twice that.

I believe the official Mitsubishi reasoning is that the original PHEV version was based on the old version of the Outlander. They wanted to wait until the new version was available and tailor that better for North American tastes. Whether or not that’s the truth will probably never be known.

Mitsu should pack the hell out of the battery till it meets the >6000lbs to get the “Hummer Loophole”.

I can dream.

Well, they didn’t have enough batteries to sell Outlander PHEVs in the U.S., because they wouldn’t have enough batteries left for i-MiEVs.

And when you have the chance to sacrifice one of your most popular vehicles that fills a glaring market vacuum and would be the only competition in its class, so you can instead offer a tiny, shoddy city car that nobody wants… you gotta pull the trigger.

MItsubishi have good price, CHAdeMO, V2G, “DUAL Motor” and battery with 12 kWh is also better then competitors. So it will be a seller.

How well Outlander PHEV sells depends on the following things, not necessarily in order:

1. Price (if it is less than $40K, then it got good shot. if it is more, then it is questionable).

2. California HOV incentives. If it gets Green HOV stickers, then you got at least a 300-400 monthly sales boost.

3. Gas price. If gas price hovers around $2.50/gallon or lower, you can bet that people won’t pay premium for this PHEV.

4. Inventory/dealer incentives/advertisement. If dealers don’t stock it or people don’t know about it, it won’t sell.

While expensive, Volvo is about to release the XC90 T8 Twin Engine here in the US. Very nice looking vehicle, AWD, 25 miles on battery, and many additional features.

IMHO, the only thing it is going to do is send new buyers to other brands. I now have my sights on a Subaru Outback. LOADED, for much less than the Outlander. I can put the estimated price difference in the bank and drive off that to pay fuel/maintenance for 8 years.

If it was out this year, I would have bought it, but given its delayed schedule, I am leaning towards Town & Country PHEV.