California is generally credited for kick starting (and maintaining) the plug-in revolution for not only the United States but largely for the rest of the world as well, so we don't want to be too unnecessarily hard on them for hampering the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV's introduction into America. Still, we can't say we aren't a little disappointed.
Yet, that is what seems to have happened to the plug-in extended range SUV according to Mitsubishi, as California regulators have asked that all newly introduced plug-in extended range hybrids be equipped with a battery monitoring unit which can diagnose a PHEV's battery systems and notify the driver of any system/degradation issues in the pack as well as report on emission concerns.
UPDATE: ARB statement refuting Mitsubishi's statement below
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New 2015 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV Interior Option Coming Soon In Japan...Not So Much In The US
According to a report in the Automotive News, Mitsubishi is now working with the US request to comply but it will further delay the Outlander PHEV's into the US.
Tetsuya Tobe, manager of product planning at Mitsu stated that, “They think that deterioration of the battery might affect emissions."
The Outlander PHEV which was originally scheduled to arrive in the US this year had been delayed by the company to the first quarter of 2015 due to massive (and unexpected) demand elsewhere in the world that maxed out Mitsubishi's lithium battery production for the vehicle.
The company is saying that the engineering and addition of this monitor will likely push the vehicles US introduction back to "late 2015 or early 2016"according to Mr. Tobe.
UPDATE: Dave Clegern at ARB sent us a note saying that that the hold up on the Mitsubishi PHEV was not caused directly by themselves:
ARB did not “hamper” Mitsubishi in this effort. The company was offered the means to go forward with certification and made its own decision not to do so at this time. This is the same certification mechanism offered to any automaker.
As you know, ARB and Californians have been extremely supportive of PHEVs, and this agency will continue to be. California has committed to putting 1.5 million ZEVs on our roads by 2025, and is part of an 8 state collaborative which just release its Action Plan to put 3.3 million ZEVs on the road collectively by the same date.
We welcome Mitsubishi’s efforts, and those of other automakers, to help achieve these goals.
Attempting to get to the bottom of the situation as to what exacting happened and how, we then asked ARB, in response to their statement, when Mitsu was made aware the Outlander didn't comply as it stands? And did they actually petition to bring the Outlander to California in early 2015 and then found out they couldn't by ARB, or did they simply choose not to go through the process?
ARB said they were "unable to say anymore" as their "certification process often involves confidential business information and as a result we simply can't discuss the process."
Mitsubishi Corporate Slide Illustrates Production Changes For The Outlander PHEV
Even without US sales, Mitsubishi says it expects to sell 48,000 units of the Outlander PHEV in fiscal 2014; which for them began April 1st of this year.
Why 48,000? Because that is the absolute limit on the amount of batteries the company's newly doubled in size plant can provide for the plug-in Outlander..
Automotive News, hat tip to Lindsay!