What In the Name of Weird and Pointless Concepts Is Mitsubishi Planning for the Tokyo Motor Show?
Creative juices tend to run wild when you’re looking for some attentionby Kirby Garlitos, on
Mitsubishi is no stranger to swinging for the fences with its concept vehicles. Perhaps it comes with being a middling automaker that’s looking to attract as much attention as it possibly can. Or maybe Mitsubishi’s designers decided to lock themselves in a hotbox as they giggled their way into creating the company’s latest concept vehicle.
Either way, the automaker’s newest concept offering — it predictably doesn’t have a name yet — is one or the other, maybe even a combination of both. It’s a concept PHEV SUV, which is all Mitsubishi’s telling us. It also attached a teaser image of the concept, specifically showing four circular objects whose primary — and secondary, I suppose — purpose still escapes us.
That’s all that Mitsubishi is willing to divulge so we should be in for a few surprises when the 2019 Tokyo Motor Show opens its doors next month. Let’s just hope that those four circular things have a collective purpose beyond looking like the mouth of a mutated Venus Fly Trap.
Ambition is a beautiful thing in the auto industry. Most of the big automakers today started with nothing but hopes and dreams, and look at where they are now. It’s a case-to-case basis, sure, but if it’s channeled in the right way, ambition usually leads to good things down the road. There once was a time when Mitsubishi was as ambitious as any automaker in the world. It’s responsible for some of the most memorable performance cars to come out of Japan, including but not limited to the Lancer Evolution.
Heck, Mitsubishi even parlayed that nameplate and created 11 different generations of the Evo line. It seemed like forever ago when Mitsubishi was talked about in the same breath as Toyota, Honda, and Nissan. But those days are gone.
Today, Mitsubishi is trying to regain some of the relevance it lost in the past decade.
It’s been a slow and uphill climb, but give the automaker credit for one thing. The ambition remains ingrained in the psyche of the company. How else would you describe this new concept that Mitsubishi is set to unveil at the 2019 Tokyo Motor Show next month?
I’d call it ambitious except that I don’t know enough about the concept to justify that descriptor. The only thing we know at this point is that it’s a plug-in hybrid SUV concept that will carry a rather unorthodox design element that we can see in all its glory courtesy of the single teaser image Mitsubishi released to go along with the announcement of its Tokyo Motor Show attendance.
For the life of me, I don’t know what these four circular things are.
They look like fan-type objects so it’s possible that they could release — or suck in — some form of substance.
Vape clouds, perhaps? Maybe they’re some kind of new-age turbines that will allow the concept to take flight in case it needs to make a quick stop at a Burger King. Maybe they’re defense mechanisms akin to a mechanical monster with jagged teeth that’ll have no problem chopping the hand of some poor schmuck who gets a little too close for comfort to the concept.
I’m not going to get too caught up deciphering something so weird that it defies the typical teaser theorizing that we in the business all love to do. What’s important, at least in Mitsubishi’s case, is the concept as a whole. We know it’s a plug-in hybrid electric SUV concept. The teaser image also shows a few carbon fiber details, which is a welcome surprise coming from Mitsubishi.
The concept also appears to have a split-roof design, though it’s unclear if we’re looking at the concept from the front quarter panel or the rear quarter panel. Either way, we don’t expect this to be a clunky concept. Mitsubishi also threw in a few nuggets of information about the model, describing it as small, driven by all four wheels, and provides “unparalleled driving pleasure and confidence over all terrain in the light and wind.” It’s not much in the way of actual details, but at least Mitsubishi is getting its money’s worth with its in-house copywriters.
The concept, according to Mitsubishi, will also carry a “downsized, lower-weight plug-in hybrid (PHEV) drivetrain and an electric 4WD system.” The latter isn’t really a cause for curiosity, but the so-called downsized powertrain is intriguing. Are we looking at a downgraded setup of the same drivetrain that Mitsubishi proposed for the creatively named Engelbert Tourer 4X4 Concept that we saw at the 2019 Geneva Motor Show?
Granted, Mitsubishi didn’t reveal the actual specifications of that powertrain, but it did say it would carry a 43-mile electric range and a 435-mile total range. In theory, this smaller concept will have a shorter range, but since this is Mitsubishi we’re talking about, an any-event scenario is more plausible.
Ultimately, this new Mitsubishi concept will likely accomplish as much as a lot of previous Mitsubishi concepts. By that, I mean that I don’t expect it to spend much time — if any — being the topic of discussion in Mitsubishi board rooms beyond its appearance in Tokyo next month.
A production version is unlikely, too, but not at all impossible, especially in the guise that it will appear in at the auto show.
Perhaps Mitsubishi has plans for this concept that we all don’t know about. Perhaps not. That’s been the routine table game when it comes to the company and a lot of its more recent concept offerings. We see them in auto shows and think that Mitsubishi’s ambitious juices are flowing once again. Then we wait a proper amount of time to see if a production model comes out of that concept, only to be disappointed when it doesn’t.
I’m not saying that this new concept will follow that blueprint, but history doesn’t favor the hopeful. For all we know, this concept shows up in Tokyo and is never seen again after its turn in the spotlight.
Don’t feel bad if that happens. It’s not exactly something that Mitsubishi isn’t capable of doing, and if that ends up being the case, at least we can take comfort knowing that the Japanese automaker remains unafraid of swinging for the fences with its concept offerings. It’s just too bad that those swings end up as foul balls far more often than we’d like.
Read our full review on the 2019 Mitsubishi Engelberg Tourer Concept.
Read our full review on the 2016 Mitsubishi GT-PHEV Concept.
Read our full review on the 2019 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV.