It's not often that a company shows a car that can seat five and do 140mpg. However, Mitsubishi will do just that at the Tokyo Motor Show on October 21st when it unleashes the PX-MiEV crossover - a green monster of a car set to give the Qashqai something to think about when (and if) it hits showrooms.
It's just a concept for now, but Mitsubishi has explained the technology underpinning the futuristic family car at great length, suggesting it's not just a pipe dream but something that's close to reality. The PX-MiEV is powered by a plug-in, petrol-electric hybrid system that utilises a 1.6-litre engine and two electric motors linked to a battery pack. It's the way they work together that gives the car it's amazing claimed economy.
At low speeds - i.e. around town - the battery sends power to an electric motor driving to the front wheels, which propels the car without spitting out any carbon dioxide emissions. In those circumstances, when the battery runs flat, the petrol engine fires up but acts as a generator to charge the battery so that the electric motor continues to turn the wheels. However, when a sudden burst of acceleration is required, the engine can drive the car, as can the second motor, which is mated to the back wheels.
In conditions of low grip, the setup means that the system is actually a very clever four-wheel drive system - the second motor at the back can kick in at any time to provide more traction when required. In addition, the petrol engine is used on the motorway too because, according to Mitsubishi, it's more efficient than the electric motors at higher speeds.
Mitsubishi will show 15 other cars at Tokyo, though at present the only other car it's released any details on is the odd-looking i-MiEV Cargo, which is essentially a van based on the electric i-MiEV.