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GENEVA MOTOR SHOW - Mitsubishi is telling the world "This is the future of motoring as we see it" with two alternative-power concepts on its stand at the 83rd Salon. The GR-HEV, a radical one-tonne pick-up with a diesel-electric hybrid powertrain, is the more impressive - if only because of its sheer size.
This sexed-up double-cab is 5420mm long, 1930mm wide and 1775mm high on a three-metre wheelbase and was developed as a conceptual successor to a long line of one-tonne Mitsubishi bakkies, going back to the 1978 Mitsubishi L200.
Set between sculptured, wraparound diamond-shaped headlights, the aerodynamic blades of the grille seem milled from solid brass as if to shield the three-diamond logo, while the concept's profile is defined by a sharp character line, starting from the headlights and becoming an upswept beltline.
As on the current Triton, the long load bed is a visual continuation of the cab, while the upper structure has a low roofline highlighted by satin-finished side mouldings that arch over the cabin to form flying buttresses over the rear window, connected by a twin-boom aerofoil.
Motivation is provided by a 2.5 litre 'clean diesel' engine and a front-mounted electric motor, mated to an automatic gearbox with a battery pack located inside (and protected by) the ladder frame, with cross-guard bars for extra protection - all controlled by an electronic operating system that keeps CO2 emissions under 149g/km.
Mitsubishi sees this as the simplest and most robust alternative power-train for a heavy-duty vehicle, with the added advantages that it can also provide instant response as the electric motor boosts the diesel's acceleration, extra torque at high revs and quieter cruising.
It can also function as a generator providing 110 or 240-volt power, allow the use of a 100-volt winch, or be driven short distances as a pure electric vehicle - inside buildings, for instance.
The concept also uses Mitsubishi's proven Super All Wheel Control system for stability and traction, tailoring output and braking to each wheel for every drive mode (2L, 4H, 4HL, 4LL) selected by the driver when facing difficult driving conditions, making the most of the hybrid power-train's instant response.
At the other end of the scale, in more ways than one, is Mitsubishi's take on a next generation compact battery car - the Concept CA-MiEV.
There are no plans to put it into production at this stage; this concept is intended as a showcase of the various technologies Mitsubishi intends to introduce in the medium to long term across its range of vehicles.
In particular, it's a pointer to next-generation electric-car systems, high-density batteries, lightweight chassis and advanced aerodynamics that the maker says should soon make possible a 300km driving range - that's about a week for the average European driver, three days for a Capetonian but less than two days of commuting for most Gautengers.
Real-life convenience features include wireless charging by magnetic resonance and remote control by smartphone apps.
The CA-MiEV is Mitsubishi's first true concept car in years, and they've gone all out to get its drag coefficient down to a new record for the company of 0.26, using a full-length flat floor, rear-view cameras, minimal air intakes and rear diffuser
Very sleek, the arrow-shaped Concept CA-MiEV brings a degree of high tech sleekness to small car design, all the way to its unusual canopy sloping rear roof line.
It has an all-in-one integrated power unit (80 kW motor + inverter + charger), to help with energy management, packaging and weight reduction, a compact flat battery pack, and high energy-density lithium ion batteries.
Future production cars like this, says Mitsubishi, will also be connected to the rest of the plant with telematics features such as automatic warnings in case of theft, automatic '911' calls in case of emergency, remote control (engine start/no start, panic alarm, door locking) from your smartphone, data transfer (maps) from your phone to the car's satnav, remote monitoring of energy levels and preheating, so that the car is already pleasantly warm when you get in on a cold morning.
That last one, by the way is already available on the plug-in hybrid Outlander, unveiled in September 2012 at the Paris Motor Show. It went on sale in Japan in January and will be launched in Europe in mid-2013.