WToyota Australia is facing criticism from Greenpeace for dragging its heels on a local EV rollout, and Toyota chief Akio Toyota has tried to downplay expectations on the spread of EVs, the Japanese auto giant’s cautious electric vehicle push. The strategy bears some resemblance to his long-term strategy. Time rivals: Mitsubishi Motors.
Speaking with Wheel Media at Mitsubishi’s Tokyo headquarters, Takashi Shirakawa, general manager of EV powertrain engineering, said that until battery technologies become more mature, a more comprehensive approach to reducing carbon emissions is necessary. Is.
“Sooner or later our vehicles have to be battery EV type. We need to switch from plug-in hybrid to battery. [EV]But we need to get two wins,” explained Shirakawa.
“The first is getting the battery supply fairly stable, and the second is getting the energy density higher, like in a solid-state battery. Those are the two breakthroughs needed to move to a full battery EV. [lineup]”
But until then, Mitsubishi’s emissions reduction plan will track slightly differently from the likes of Volkswagen, Renault and Mercedes-Benz, which are in the midst of a concerted shift to fully battery-powered model lineups. For Mitsubishi, its electrification strategy will depend on vehicle size: smaller cars will go down the EV pathway, while larger vehicles will be offered as PHEVs.
“For example, an Outlander is defined as a large vehicle in our case,” Shirakawa explained. “The Eclipse Cross is a bit smaller than the Outlander, but from an engineering standpoint it’s in the same category.”
According to Shirakawa, it’s vehicles smaller than the Eclipse Cross – B-segment hatches, sedans and SUVs – that will benefit the most from going all-electric, thanks to their lighter weight, acceptable range and driving efficiency. Requires less battery capacity to generate. .
By 2030, Mitsubishi aims to have all of its models electrified in some way, with 50 percent of its lineup being electric vehicles.
2022 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross
But why the two-level approach? Because, according to Mitsubishi’s math, replacing every vehicle on the planet with an all-electric equivalent is not only impossible from a resource standpoint, it’s not necessarily the most environmentally friendly strategy either.
While lithium tends to get the big headlines, it’s cobalt that is the biggest resource constraint when it comes to battery cathode materials. Mitsubishi’s analysis shows that there are not enough known cobalt reserves in the ground to allow all the vehicles on the global market.It is estimated to be two billion units by 2050.a date when most manufacturers expect to switch fully to EV offerings and when most major economies (China and India expected to reach carbon neutrality) will ban battery-electric vehicles.
Nickel also presents a scarcity of resources. Although it would take less than a quarter of the world’s remaining nickel reserves to achieve a full EV transition, the mineral is in high demand in many industries, particularly stainless steel production.
According to Mitsubishi’s math, replacing every vehicle on the planet with an all-electric equivalent is not only impossible from a resource standpoint, it’s not necessarily the most environmentally friendly strategy either.
The idea of equipping all cars with resource-rich battery packs, according to Mitsubishi, is a misuse of valuable resources — resources that are better suited to light vehicles than to behemoth SUVs like the Tesla Model X, the recently unveiled Polestar. So being safe will increase more. 3 and Kia’s upcoming EV9. Not to mention the likes of the 246kWh GMC Hummer EV and the 131kWh Ford F-150 Lightning.
Mitsubishi’s two-pronged electrification strategy is now taking shape in Japan, with a June launch kei-class eK X EV passenger car (mostly identical to the Nissan Sakura EV) delivers a fresh Outlander PHEV with an all-electric younger sibling.
With a modest 20kWh battery pack and 180km range, the eK X EV (pronounced “EK Cross”) is strictly for urban use – but the macro view is to make a BYD Atto3, Nissan Leaf e+ or similar. Resources are needed. Instead, the Hyundai Kona Electric, three Mitsubishi EK XEVs could be built.
Mitsubishi XFC Concept
It’s a similar deal with the Outlander PHEV – which also uses a 20kWh battery pack and boasts a modest electric-only range of 80km, but more people have been given lithium, cobalt and lithium-ion batteries. Allows the unit to put an electric car in its driveway. get out
And then, there’s the matter of what’s best from a lifecycle energy efficiency perspective.
Mitsubishi is well aware of the carbon costs of manufacturing, operating and disposing of a car, but while critics of EVs are eager to claim that the energy costs of battery manufacturing and the CO2-heavy nature of electricity production While the environmental benefits of EVs are eliminated, Shirakawa says the approach doesn’t apply to every region and market.
Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV
However, this applies to Australia.
Our high mix of dirty fossil fuels like coal and oil Our average energy CO2 emissions are over 486 grams per kWh. (above the global average of 475g/km), making pure combustion engine vehicles a potentially ‘greener’ option than anything else on our market (and bear in mind that’s a relative term) – including PHEVs. .
But for countries with average energy emissions around 300g/kWh, the graph looks very different. While emissions from burning fuel remain the same, emissions from battery charging and vehicle production and disposal shrink dramatically, giving a plug-in hybrid an edge over pure combustion, regular hybrids and pure electric vehicles.
It’s only in countries where energy comes mostly from renewables or nuclear power – many Western European and Nordic countries – that net EV lifecycle emissions are actually lower than PHEVs, and by Mitsubishi’s calculations, it’s only There is a slight advantage.
Current Mitsubishi Pajero Sport
However, all this only applies to larger cars: C, D, and E segment passenger cars and SUVs, not to mention the likes of the Pajero Sport and Triton. For small vehicles, Mitsubishi’s data says that going all-electric is the best way to cut emissions, thanks to their low weight and small battery size: hence the launch of the all-electric ek X EV.
According to Shirakawa, only the arrival of solid-state batteries – which are still in the experimental stage of development – will strengthen the argument for purely electric supercars, even though it comes with higher production-related costs and associated CO2 emissions. May come at a price. .