mitsubishi outlander phev 01

Mitsubishi Motors Malaysia (MMM) is not ruling out the possibility of CKD local assembly for the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV.

This was shared by MMM’s CEO Tetsuya Oda at a Q&A session with the media yesterday, although he did add that there’s plenty of uncertainty regarding incentives for energy efficient vehicles (EEVs) in the 2014 National Automotive Policy (NAP). He also declined to offer a timeline or further details.

MMM officials also acknowledged possible challenges in an “Outlander PHEV CKD” project, including the transport and storage of the PHEV’s 300-volt, 80-cell lithium-ion battery.

Mitsubishi_Outlander_PHEV_review_ 046

Now, it’s no secret that MMM has plans to introduce the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV in our market – we were invited to drive the SUV in Japan late last year and a test mule has been spotted racking up miles recently.

Even before that, at the E-Mobilia World conference in March 2013, Mitsubishi said it planned to introduce the plug-in hybrid here at the end of 2013. These plans were based on the continuation of tax incentives for CBU hybrids and EVs.

It was announced in the NAP that the exemption of excise duties and import taxes for hybrids and EVs will be extended for models that are CKD assembled in Malaysia. The exemption will be extended until December 31, 2015 for hybrids and December 31, 2017 for EVs.

mitsubishi-outlander-phev

It’s clear that with the NAP, the government has thrown a curveball in MMM’s direction. Without incentives, the Japan-made Outlander PHEV (which Oda describes as more of an EV than a hybrid) will be too expensive to compete, which means that there will be no business case to bring it in.

4X4s and SUVs with green tech are the main pillar in MMC’s mid-term business plan (witness the company’s Tokyo 2013 and Geneva 2014 show exhibits), so this is quite a blow to the cause. Outlander aside, the Mitsubishi i-MiEV electric car (launched in March 2013 for RM136k) has also been made redundant by the NAP. Another EV victim of the NAP is the Nissan Leaf, launched not long ago at KLIMS13.

Despite the suprise obstacles, there’s a strong sense of “never say never” within MMM that was apparent in the session with the media. As unlikely as an Outlander PHEV CKD may sound, Mitsubishi could yet walk away with the last surprise. Click here to read our Outlander PHEV review.