Mitsubishi Motors Corporation will continue development of EV and four-wheel drive performance technologies with a factory entry in the upcoming Baja Portalegre 500 cross-country rally.
Held in eastern Portugal on 22-24 October, MMC will field an Outlander PHEV plug-in hybrid SUV in the FIA-accredited event, with significant modifications to the drive battery structure, control system and vehicle suspension.
The Outlander PHEV rally car will be driven by experienced Mitsubishi test driver and two-time Dakar winner Hiroshi Masuoka, who will also serve as team captain.
The team will be led by team manager and technical director Yasuo Tanaka, who brings expertise from MMC’s EV Component Research Department, Development Engineering Office. The team will be largely made up of MMC personnel with support from four engineers from the EV Component Research Department.
The Baja Portalegre 500 is scheduled to be the ninth round of the 2015 FIA Cross Country Rally World Cup, and is widely considered a warm-up event for the world famous Dakar Rally.
With a competitive course covering around 500km of high-speed dirt roads, the Baja Portalegre 500 has attracted entries across three categories – automobile, motor bike and quad – with a field of more than 300 vehicles expected to take part in the 2015 event.
MMC is targeting a place finish in the upcoming cross country rally and will use the opportunity to once again promote the advanced development of its EV and four-wheel drive control technologies.
Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV rally car
The competition car uses the Outlander PHEV production model drive battery – which forms the heart of the plug-in hybrid SUV – but with modifications to its structure to achieve greater capacity and output.
The control system governing the motors has been modified to deliver a higher output, while the generator and engine – which supply power to the battery and motors – have been modified to increase power output and boost overall system performance.
Off-road performance has been improved in order to take full advantage of the upgraded PHEV system. Changes include a higher ground clearance and longer suspension stroke together with larger diameter rally tires to enhance the Outlander PHEV’s performance limits.
The data Mitsubishi Motors gathers during the event is considered highly valuable and will be fed back into development of future production cars.
Mitsubishi team captain and driver Hiroshi Masuoka said the Outlander PHEV’s twin motor 4x4 driveline had earned a solid reputation for durability and stable driving dynamics in markets around the world, which was reinforced through recent competition in the Asia Cross Country Rally and Australasian Safari.
“The non-stop competition format of the Baja 500 will again demand the highest levels of drive motor and battery durability from the Outlander PHEV,” he said.
“Like many competitors in this year’s Baja Portalegre 500, I am driven to show Outlander PHEV’s incredible driving dynamics and durability which come direct from the production car.
“With the support of MMC EV development engineers, we will compete with a view to finishing among the winners.
“Mitsubishi is using this event as an opportunity to demonstrate the upgraded power of the rally car’s EV components and advanced development of our 4WD control technology, with the aim of using our experiences at the Baja Portalegra 500 to develop our plug-in hybrid EV system further in the future.”
2015 Asia Cross Country Rally
As in previous years, MMC will support the Two & Four Motor Sports team to compete in the 2015 FIA Asia Cross Country Rally on 8-14 August.
This year, the team will enter an Outlander PHEV rally car in the same specification as MMC’s Baja Portalegra 500 competition car with the intention of securing a place finish in the 2015 event.
MMC will provide event support in the form of vehicle construction, vehicle provision and engineering team personnel.
Two & Four Motor Sports will use know-how gained from competition in the 2013 and 2014 events to prepare for the 2,500km mountainous rally which starts and finishes in Chiang Mai, Thailand.