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Next Generation Technology Review Part 1

Next Generation Technology Review Part 1

Mitsubishi sometime ago shared a portfolio of new technology they were looking to implement in the next wave of vehicles.   Given that they were in a time crunch to develop an entirely new engine platform, the offerings were decent not plentiful.   For those who do not know,  the world engine platform was terminated soon after it was released by Dodge, Mitsubishi, and Hyundai.  This is where the 4B11 and 4B12 engine came from.   Dodge more or less decided they were going their own way with Fiat and bought out the other two participates.  While Mitsubishi could still crank out 4B11 & 4B12 engines, design changes and refinements would likely cost more in the long run and may incur additional fees or royalties of some kind.

While extremely disruptive, Mitsubishi did reactive some projects that remained dormant since 2007.  Many should know that Mitsubishi made great inroads in the mid 2000 and even dabbled in Diesel Tech. before focusing on the World Engine Project.  Fast forward to today,  Mitsubishi is now in the best position it has ever been in since 2008-2009 when the global market went to hell in a hand basket.  Operations are lean,   The Japanese currency has offered a 30% swing to make Japanese Exports more economical, and their new technologies are ready.

I constantly get email messages from people who know me and those who just follow my blog posts about Mitsubishi staying in the game.  (In North America).  As many of you know, Suzuki made decision to pick up gun and pull the trigger on exiting the North American Car Market.  Some would say…. myself included… if they just waited another 3 months, they would have benefited from the currency slide.  but they didnt… and decided to only focus on the Motorcycle side of the business.

Mitsubishi on the other hand I am sure picked up the gun even earlier decided to see where things go.  While I think the gun is in hand…. The increasing favorable currency situation and on time technology development seems to be keeping things calm for now.  While exiting the North American market is on the table anything can happen.  But… I would gamble that Mitsubishi stays in the game until the new wave of vehicles are released.  Some may come as soon as next year.

Mitsubishi’s focus will be on fuel economy!  The last generation of vehicles has a significant focus on Power (TQ) and reliability.   Fuel economy was in there somewhere, but vs. its peers, this was lacking.  Mitsubishi’s has been working very diligently on battery technology and there should be no surprise that it will start to appear in all vehicles.  The question is for many… how prominent will it be in the vehicle configuration.  Will it be an invisible hand or something that hinders what Mitsubishi owners do… typically modify and make it more powerful.

Some years ago.  Honda released a new car called the CRZ.  It was amazing because it was reaching back to a classic and they included hybrid technology that seemed cool.  But…. sigh…. the cool technology ended up getting in the way of enthusiasts and made any aftermarket development for the car a “bloody nightmare” as some tuners frequently say.  Hybrid Regenerative brakes were not fun to deal with.  The CRZ hybrid was not a failure…. Honda’s footing of not creating a non Hybrid version is what killed the platform.  Even after years of further production, Honda did not create a simple non hybrid version.  Some argued that Honda painted themselves into a corner about going green with this vehicle, and didnt want to back pedal from the mandate. :(

Getting back to Mitsubishi, they are designing a new EVO and while the body styling has been left until the end. (no one knows what it looks like), the guts underneath does look impressive.  But, the final combo of technology has yet to be determined.  One of the things that are in play is a Stop and Start technology for fuel savings when driving in the city.   There is nothing new about this technology.  Mitsubishi has experimented with this in other cars over the years . (Europe) The Mitsubishi Colt for example. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q_z-lsxRG3w

The technology in 2014 will likely be in a passive state, meaning the driver will control when the engine turns off and resumes at stops.  (Not automatically) The simple logic is that an engine that isnt running doesnt consume fuel.  For an overview of past systems of Stop and Start.  Or as Mitsubishi calls it, Stop and GO.  Visit their technology page here. http://www.mitsubishi-motors.com/en/spirit/technology/library/idle_reduction.html

 

Another technology I have had the pleasure of testing is the new CVT7 and CVT8 technology which is the next generation of CVT transmissions coming on market.  The smaller engine vehicles like the Mitsubishi Mirage & Nissan Versa Note have been a pleasure to drive.  The low fuel consumption works to make these vehicles number 1 in their class.  I have logged about 6000km on a CVT7 transmission and when you fuel economy is 5.8L per 100 on a fuel tank of gas, you tend to realize that there is mega fuel cost savings.  So much so that I figure that if you jump from a Lancer into one of these small cars, the fuel savings alone will likely pay down half of your car payment…. maybe more if you drive as much as I do.

 

Next Generation of CVT Transmissions from Nissan and Mitsubishi

For those of you sitting around waiting for the next move by Mitsubishi, Good news is at hand.   For some who closely watch what goes on in Japan.  You already know that Mitsubishi has already been selling the Mirage all over Asia.  The Mirage and other small vehicles produced by Nissan & Mitsubishi are now using a new type of CVT produced by Jatco.  Jatco is the worlds largest manufacturer of Continuously Variable Transmissions (CVT) and if you drive a Mitsubishi Lancer. Chances are you have a CVT in there.

While these transmissions in general have had their draw backs.  The quest for reliability and fuel economy have been a chief concerns for all companies involved.  Jatco has raised the bar by address some of the criticisms of the CVT.  The main problem would be the lack of performance in acceleration RPM rev-up.    I myself own a Mitsubishi Lancer GTS equipped with a CVT.  I love the smooth ride and decent fuel economy.  But I could not bare the lack of initial response when the car was in D (Drive) mode.  I couldn’t a yellow light at an intersection if my life depended on it.  (Trust me… I don’t try)  Typically one would have to mash the gas pedal or use the manual mode shifter to get the car to dig in and go.

This was something that I solved by purchasing a Sprint Booster for my laggy CVT.  This solved the fuzzy logic of the transmission and allowed the driver to easily control the Power / RPM  to get the exact level performance without having to mash the gas pedal.   Sprint Booster is very liberating.

But…. getting to the good news about fuel CVT transmissions.  It appears that Jatco may have gotten the logic just right for transmission response.  Working with Mitsubishi and Nissan on integration of the new system, throttle response should be improved.  Even if the Mirage isnt your cup of tea…. The next generation of Mitsubishi cars will have the same enhancements.  I didnt even mention the 10% fuel economy bonus.  😉

If you would like to know more about the CVT.  Check out this video.

 

Mitsubishi's New Mirage replaces the Colt North America never saw

Mitsubishi’s New Mirage replaces the Colt North America never saw

Mitsubishi is moving ahead with the Mirage.  After 2 years of serious development, insider say that its closer to production than many know.  Mitsubishi has pored a tremendous amount of resources into this car and the green technology that drives it.  But…  How does the new Mirage stack up to the Mitsubishi Colt it is replacing in Europe?

After asking some tough questions with my Mitsu Japan contacts.  The number 1 achievement for Mitsubishi is to significantly reduce if not eliminate emissions fleet wide.  Mitsubishi wants to move itself into that space first before anyone else.  While I began the conversation feeling uncomfortable with the radical departure from what everyone is use to.  Everyone, myself included, fear change.  For me its rapid change that gets to me.  but as we talked, I started to feel very energized.

But there were still a few things that left me puzzled.   Mitsubishi had a great car released 4 years ago in Europe called the Colt.  Why retire it and start over?  Did it not reach all the ECO targets set out?   They paused for a few minutes and told me.  “We took what we learned there and made it better!”

Now let me stop right there and tell you guys a bit about the Mitsubishi Colt.

Say hello to the 150 Horsepower Mitsubishi Colt Ralliart And 109 HP Natural Aspirated Colt available today in Europe.


Sexy isn’t it?  What is even more stunning is that this 1.5L turbo engine puts out great fuel economy.  33 MPG City and 50 MPG High.  50!  Getting that while running Premium gas is a breath of fresh are.  The Naturally Aspirated engines are green too.  And there are 3 of them in use in Europe right now

A)  1.5L engine putting out 109HP
B) 1.3L engine putting out 95HP
C) 1.1L engine putting out 75HP for the super green tree lover in you.

It is option C that will shock and awe you.  getting as much as 950 KM (590 Miles) on a full tank of gas.

Mitsubishi was doing this 4 years ago in Europe.  All without having to go hardcore hybrid.  And for 4 years I asked why not North America.  This car would be a hit, its small, light weight and most importantly it has a Turbo.  It would represent a competitive edge over the Honda Fit, Toyota Yaris, and the Mazda 2 which came out in the last year.

In recent discussion with Mitsubishi Japan, I was told

“strategic planning in 2008 – 2009 shifted the focus towards more fuel efficient technologies.  Namely hybrid and full blown electric plug in options.”

Ok I get it, but I guess for the last 4 years I have been harping in on why did it not come here in 2007 with the Lancer and EVO X?  It was explained as

“A Management decision influenced by the fact that North America was using a new engine platform and it may interfere with marketing efforts.  Second, the were not sure of its suitability in our North American Market.  Third, the marketing focus for North America at the time was solely on the Lancer, Ralliart & EVO X as flagship cars.”

After asking my translator to repeat that last part, but he again translated it again just like that.

When I talked to my contact further about what is coming down the road.  He said the technology is far more advanced and eco than the Colt.  And most importantly, the emissions will be cut in half or rendered non existent.  As he want on, I was slowly getting the sharp point.  Mitsubishi wants to put it in the minds of everyone that when you say the Name Mitsubishi you immediately see “MITSUBISHI = GREEN / ECO FRIENDLY” All by the year 2015.

Its Ambitious!  And a noble goal.  But I asked… how many of your traditional customers will follow and will your new technology be as engaging as past vehicles.

His short answer as YES! overwhelmingly.  As I paused on the phone for about 10 seconds.  I waited for him to say more.  Then he articulated it this way as I kinda waited.

“We think that the next few years will be our time in the spot light.  This is where they fuse traditional Mitsubishi style  and design with our eco technology.”

While he didnt say officially but he eluded to the fact that a hardcore coupe is in the pipe and may reach beyond just concepts soon.  But the million dollar question is.  When???

Stay tuned… I will talk more about this later and chime in what Mitsubishi is showing off at the Toyko Auto Show.  The Mitsubishi Mirage.