Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV road test car is gone in a flash
TEETHING troubles are an accepted part of new technologies.
Electric and plug-in hybrid cars are in their infancy when compared to traditional internal combustion vehicles, so it isn't entirely unexpected when things go wrong.
Frustrating, yes, but not surprising.
Trouble arrived with our long-term test Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV after I'd plugged it in and then picked up the charge unit for placement on a shelf under the power point.
Suddenly a pop, a bright spark and all lights off on the charge unit.
After quickly turning the power point off, an inspection of the power cord revealed a large tear through its protective rubber, and the now exposed wires burnt through.
In a flash - pardon the pun - that was it for electric charging the PHEV unless I used the four-cylinder petrol to charge the batteries (this eats through the fuel), or by regeneration when braking or going downhill.
The Mitsubishi technicians were quick to take in the power unit to check it over, and confirmed the charging unit itself was still functioning fine; it was just the cable that was fried.
He said typically this had come through attrition or an impact, such as owners shutting the cable in the garage door or driving over them.
In my case, the damage had most likely come from unplugging the unit twice each day (so I could transport it between home and work), and at some point it had received a cable tear that widened until its sparking failure.
Be it accident or general wear and tear, the malfunction surprised me for a unit less than a year old, not least because the power cable looks a robust and chunky piece of kit.
As mentioned before in my PHEV articles, owners ideally would want to have a power unit at each place they regularly recharge; for me, that would be one at home in the garage and one at the workplace.
Looking in to this, I was pleased to learn that Mitsubishi now offers charging units that can be used at 10amp power points (previously it was only 15amp) and they retail at $712.70 according to my local Mitsubishi dealer.
A lot of outlay, but I'd argue probably worth it long term for convenience purposes so I could keep one unit at home and one at work. Plus, not having to constantly plug in and unplug my only charger would ensure much less wear and tear on the unit, reducing its likelihood of failing.
Beyond the power cord incident it's been pleasant business as usual with the PHEV, namely, it proving as comfortable and practical as most other family SUVs.
I put it through its 15,000km service - even though I'm sure the petrol engine has only done around 1000-2000km on its own - and I did a long range fuel consumption test as well.
My home to work distance at 35km means I always return a delightful 0.0L/100km, but the 108km to Brisbane returned an average of 7.1L/100km. In other words, it proved thirstier than a diesel Outlander.
This showed once again that over short distances and with full electric battery charge the PHEV is at its most relevant and brilliant, but for longer unbroken journeys it doesn't make as much sense.