A competitor to Volkswagen’s new ID Buggy?

One could argue that Mitsubishi is King of ridiculous concepts with at least one showing up to every auto show, and the 2019 Tokyo Motor Show is no different as Mitsubishi has introduced the Mi-Tech Concept. This concept is a futuristic take on the Dune Buggy (will we even have these in the future?) with a plug-in hybrid powertrain that’s paired with, I kid you not, a gas turbine engine. Now we know what those weird fans that we saw in the teasers are for. It also represents a new take on Mitsubishi’s grille design and, while it does look ridiculous in some respects, it’s not all fantasy and dreams. Here’s what you need to know about the Mitsubishi Mi-Tech Concept.

Mitsubishi Mi-Tech Exterior Design

2020 Mitsubishi Mi-Tech Concept
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The entire exterior design of the Mi-Tech Concept might come off as arrogantly futuristic or maybe even ridiculous, but it’s not all crazy. The front end, for example, could represent – at least to some extent – the next representation of Mitsubishi’s grille design. If you look at it closely, you’ll notice the whole front end borrows some DNA from Models like the Outlander and Outlander Sport. The weird bracket design still exists on either side of the grille and the headlights, while compiled of oddly large LEDs actually carry a similar design cue to what Mitsubishi uses in current models. Could this grille, the trim around it, and the headlight concepts actually represent something Mitsubishi will apply to one or more of its mainstream models in the future? To some extent, yes it does. Maybe not in such an aggressive form, but I wholly believe that this is what the future front end of Mitsubishi vehicles will look like at some point in the next decade. I wouldn’t hold out hope for those weird, holographic bumper, square things at the bottom of the fascia on either side of the air dam, though.

The side profile of the Mi-Tech is where things get really weird.

As is the case for all Mitsubishi concepts in recent memory, the wheel arches are retardedly huge, and the wheels will never see the light of day on a real production model.

They are still cool, though – the wheels, not the wheel arches. The wheel arches, I just can’t get behind. They are so big and stand out because of that obscure color that they just stick out like a sore thumb. I appreciate the lack of doors since this is a dune buggy, and the handles definitely make sense, so at least Mitsubishi thought that one out. The carbon fiber roll bars behind the seats hint toward the idea that Mitsubishi is, possibly, considering at least part of this design for production. I’m not a fan of how much the taillights wrap around to the side as it almost looks like they are cut off by the wheel arch trim, and I wouldn’t expect those side steps to actually support any weight.

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The rear end is just as interesting as the front, and it even has those weird, square, holographic blocks in the corners of the fascia around what I can only describe as a larger version of the air dam in the front. Of course, the rear is also where the gas turbine engine is, so this air dam could actually serve some kind of airflow purpose. We can’t say for sure, but it’s possible. The Mitsubishi and Mi-Tech badge is a little too big in the rear, but it’s almost necessary as the rear end is too big for its own good, and it would look incredibly bland without such large emblems. I’m still not a fan of the taillights, either, considering there’s almost more of them on the side than there is the rear. For a futuristic concept, these taillights are quite boring in my book.

The interesting thing to note about the rear is how the roll bars from the interior continue toward the rear deck and serve as a home for the turbines of the engine.

Up until now, I was sure those were speakers but was certainly hoping that Mitsubishi brought Mr. Fusion to life. Oh well, maybe in another five years, right? It is pretty cool that you can see part of the MI-Tech’s powertrain through that vent in the rear deck, but it does pose some real-world issues – is everything in there waterproof? It is a dune buggy, so I would hope so, but Mitsubishi has been known to drop the ball in the past.

Mitsubishi Mi-Tech Interior Design

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The interior of the Mi-Tech concept is about as minimalistic as you can get while still remaining futuristic.

It doesn’t exactly evoke that feeling of being in a spaceship like we see with other concepts, but I think that’s part of the beauty. Why does a vehicle of the future need a million switches? Autonomy is taking over almost everything these days and, at the very least, it will take over some of the standard functions we have in cars today. A small array of buttons does sit on the face of the dash, but that’s pretty much the only set of buttons you’ll find outside of the two buttons on that makeshift gear shifter and the touch buttons on the side spokes of the steering wheel.

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At first, I thought those flush vent openings in the dash were for speakers, but now I’m convinced that those are for the heating (and maybe air conditioning?) There are two other vented trim bits, one on each side, that would likely serve better as speakers. Then again, I could have this concept reversed, so it could go either way. At first, I was really surprised that there is a serious lack of screen real estate here. The future is supposed to be nothing but big screens in cars, right? Well, don’t be that surprised yet.

There is the small instrument cluster ahead of the wheel that provides base information like battery charge, gear, and the like.

But, that whole windshield turns into a HUD that resembles something you’d expect to find in a fighter jet from the year 2050:

2020 Mitsubishi Mi-Tech Concept
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Overall, I like the design of the center console, and the seats are basically racing seats with five-point harnesses – definitely, something you need in a vehicle that’s designed to tear ass across the beach or up sand dunes. This might be another crazy futuristic interior from Mitsubishi, but I’d love to see some of the design here make it into future production models. Fingers crossed.

Mitsubishi Mi-Tech Drivetrain and Performance

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Mitsubishi hasn’t said much of anything about the Mi-Tech’s powertrain, but what we’re looking at here is a real-world example of what Mitsubishi’s electric future will look like, with the exception of, probably, that gas turbine engine – I don’t hold out hope for that. But, if you look at the rest of the design, this is highly feasible for production.

First off, you’ve got the battery in the floor – this lowers the center of gravity and provides for simple weight distribution – this is something we see in most electric cars these days.

But if you look at some of the other images, Mitsubishi is visually explaining how the AWD system works.

2020 Mitsubishi Mi-Tech Concept
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2020 Mitsubishi Mi-Tech Concept
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As you can see, there are two motor blocks, one in the front and one it the rear. The images actually show that there are two motors inside each of those blocks, and these are all independently controlled. In the first image you see above, you’ll see that when going forward, the same amount of power is delivered to all four wheels. However, when the wheel is turned, Power output for the front outer wheel and rear inner wheel (in relation to the turn) is cut roughly in half. Power to the front inner wheel is dropped to about 20 percent, while full power is delivered to the rear outer wheel. This is a design that will improve not only cornering in general but traction in cornering as well. In other words, the powertrain is literally optimizing power into the turn you’re making to force you around a curve.

As for the Gas Turbine engine, Mitsubishi has said nothing about it outside of saying that it develops “a powerful output for its size and weight.”

We also know that it can run on diesel, kerosene, or alcohol. This gas turbine engine isn’t something that delivers power to the wheels, so to speak. Instead, it’s more like a generator to keep power going to the battery. Mitsubishi says that the design helps seriously cut back emissions, but since it’s a concept, there are no real-world figures or testing to say whether or not that is true. Mitsubishi doesn’t plan to put the Mi-Tech concept into production anytime soon – maybe if VW puts their buggy into production, I assume – but some of the powertrain, most notably the battery and AWD concept, will make it into a production compact and midsize SUV by 2022.

Final Thoughts

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I have to admit that I kind of like the Mi-Tech concept. I think its design is ridiculous and far from the aspect of reality, but that’s also the beauty of it. It explores something that Mitsubishi could potentially do in the future, and the powertrain technology, as well as the front end design, will eventually wind up on production models within the next 5 years or so. I only wish that Mitsubishi would but this much effort into its production cars. If that was the case, maybe the brand wouldn’t be forced to reinvent itself every few years or, at the very least, its entire lineup wouldn’t look damn near the same.

  • Leave it
    • Wheel arches are ridiculous
    • Mitsubishi doesn’t put this level of thought into its production models
    • Gas Turbine engine won’t see production anytime soon

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.

View the full press release Hide press release
Press release

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