Mitsubishi made the right call going dramatic with the design of its new hybrid SUV concept. The Engelberg Tourer 4x4 trotted out at the Geneva Motor Show looks preposterous, but it’s hard to miss and I think elements here will tone down nicely to more practical production proportions. Meanwhile, the “Dendo House” reciprocal charging system it goes along with might have more potential to be significant.
The central pillar of Mitsubishi’s Dendo Drive House concept is that your domicile would have a battery, hooked up to solar panels, also hooked up to your car with a “bi-directional” charger. The basic idea is that you could hypothetically power your appliances with a combination of energy from the photovoltaics and energy sapped out of your hybrid car’s battery.
The car would replenish its own battery with regenerative braking and its engine. Or, the solar system could charge the car.
If that sounds familiar, indeed, similar ideas have been proposed by OVO energy and Tesla toyed with tech like this too, as pointed out by The Verge. But unlike those programs, Mitsubishi claims it is actually going to start offering the product soon in Japan, and later this year in Europe.
But don’t take my word for it, Mitsubishi has a nice little explainer video produced in the charming aesthetic of something you might be forced to watch as you’re indoctrinated into a cult:
For those of you wondering why Mitsubishi is venturing outside of automobiles, the company has actually been building air conditioners, TVs and other appliances for a long time. In fact, I’m pretty sure my grandmother watched her soap operas on a wood-sided monolith of a Mitsubishi in the ’90s. Your grandfather might have had less pleasant experiences with Mitsubishi products even further in the past.
Thankfully World War II is long over now, and Mitsubishi has given us a lot of great stuff in the last few decades like the Montero, Lancer Evolution, 3000GT and first two generations of Eclipse. But right now the company is really struggling with identity and, frankly, a lack of compelling products.
As I said when the Engelberg was first teased–an efficient, progressive SUV could be Mitsubishi’s ticket to getting people’s attention again. While the concept vehicle looks a little absurd I think the chiseled fender, front scoops and silhouette are intriguing and this vehicle could look pretty cool once it’s been watered down for mass consumption.
The proposed specifications don’t seem exceptional–Mitsubishi suggests a 43-mile electric range and 435-mile total range in its press release that’s certainly not bad, and if the price is right a production version of this thing could be a cool fuel-sipping adventure vehicle with its twin-motor four-wheel drive system.
As for actual production plans, the automakers release doesn’t even hint at anything. But I’ve got to imagine Mitsubishi’s people are pretty keen to get something new into its showrooms to get customers back in.