Japan's Mitsubishi Motors Corp sees hybrid models in Southeast Asia as a key part of its electrification strategy to stay competitive in the region, Chief Executive Takao Kato told Reuters in an interview.
While some Southeast Asian governments are trying to promote full battery electric vehicles (EVs) as a way to cut CO2 emissions, Kato said conventional gasoline-electric vehicles and plug-in electric hybrids were “probably a more realistic a choice for the region for now”.
The Japanese automaker is expected to hold a ceremony in Thailand on Monday to officially start local production of a plug-in hybrid version of the Outlander sport-utility vehicle (SUV).
Mitsubishi decided to localise the Outlander's production in part to take advantage of incentives for hybrid technology.
The use of gasoline-electric hybrid technologies to gradually replace pure gasoline-fuelled cars is an emerging trend in countries such as Japan and China.
Some automakers, however, appear to be focused on skipping hybrids and switching completely to “pure-electric” battery electric cars.
Mitsubishi intended to produce Outlander plug-ins in Thailand with key drivetrain systems and batteries shipped in from Japan, and planned to add more hybrid models to its line-ups in Southeast Asia, Kato said.
The automaker has said it plans to sell some 3,000 plug-in Outlanders in Thailand a year. The plug-in comes in two versions, priced at 1.64 million baht ($55,000) and 1.75 million baht.
Apart from the plug-in Outlander, Mitsubishi will likely launch a conventional gasoline-electric hybrid version of the Xpander SUV for some Southeast Asian markets over the next few years, company officials said.