Since its debut three years ago, Mitsubishi Xpander MPV has become a popular nameplate in the ASEAN region, especially in the Philippines. Despite not having a diesel option, the Xpander was able to fill the shoes of the now-defunct Adventure AUV well, combining the versatility and practicality of its predecessor with the car-like handling and agility of its own platform.
The Xpander Cross (left) and Xpander may soon be joined by a third variant
It comes as no surprise that the Japanese carmaker will further capitalize on the success of its mass-market people carrier. The SUV-styled Mitsubishi Xpander Cross is the first (albeit superficial) step, but a bolder move would be to introduce the Xpander with an electrified powertrain as part of the model’s mid-cycle refresh.
That’s exactly what Mitsubishi did, confirming the hybrid electric Xpander in July 2020 as part of its “Small but Beautiful” mid-term plan.
Based on the carmaker's roadmap, the hybrid Xpander is already in the pipeline
Turns out that Mitsubishi has set a pretty lofty goal for itself in aiming for net-zero carbon emissions by the year 2050, which is just three decades away.
The carmaker plans to do this in increments, going for a 40 percent reduction in emissions within the next 10 years by improving its internal combustion engines and promoting electric models, with a focus on plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEV).
It had previously announced plans to abandon further diesel engine development, phasing out the option on its models by the end of 2021 and scaling down its diesel lineup.
The hybrid MPV could run on Nissan's e-Power technology
Now, the upcoming e-Xpander may not be a PHEV, but it still plays an important part in Mitsubishi’s ASEAN product strategy on electrification. There are at least two ways this can be achieved.
One involves a souped-up version of the current 4A91 1.5L engine, paired with a single electric motor. The other (which we prefer) takes advantage of Mitsubishi’s alliance partnership with Nissan, by sourcing the latter’s series hybrid technology currently found on the Nissan Kicks e-Power crossover.
That setup uses a 1.2L gasoline engine to continuously charge an onboard battery powering the electric motor which turns the drive wheels. Considering that Nissan benefited from basing its own Livina MPV on the Xpander for the Indonesian market, the reciprocity simply makes more sense.
Nissan's Indonesia-exclusive Livina MPV uses the Xpander platform
Nikkei Asia reports that the hybrid Xpander will be launched sometime between April 2022 and March 2023. However, note that this upcoming model is merely a stopgap, as the current platform needs to be modified to accommodate the electrified powertrain.
The real test is with the next-generation Xpander’s arrival farther down the pipeline, with an architecture specifically dedicated to the onboard hybrid technology.
Does the prospect of a hybrid Xpander electrify you?
If the only reason you haven’t gone for the Xpander so far is that it lacks a diesel, will the upcoming, more efficient hybrid version change your mind?
Look over the horizon for future automotive trends with Philkotse.com.
Know more about Mitsubishi Xpander
The new Mitsubishi Xpander entered the growing segment of small MPVs. It looked sharp due to the influence of the Montero Sport styling. It features a seven-seater cabin, a modern but simple dashboard, and an infotainment system located high right at the center. For safety, all its variants come with a standard ABS with EBD and dual airbags. The range-topper variant is equipped with additional safety kits such as hill start assist, traction control, and electronic stability control. Under the hood of the Mitsubishi Xpander, a 1.5-liter 4A91 MIVEC naturally-aspirated four-cylinder gasoline engine produces 141 Nm of torque and 103 HP. It is mated to either a 4-speed automatic transmission or a 5-speed manual transmission that can be found under its hood. Mitsubishi Motor Philippines Corporation offers the Mitsubishi Xpander in three variants: Mitsubishi Xpander GLX MT, Mitsubishi Xpander GLX Plus AT, and Mitsubishi Xpander GLS AT. The model is also available in five different color options namely Titanium Gray, Jet Black Mica, Red Metallic, Quartz White Pearl, and Sterling Silver Metallic.
Joseph Paolo Estabillo