Mitsubishi Motors Corporation (MMC) is to enter an Outlander PHEV, the only twin-motor 4WD in production today, in the Baja Portalegre 500 cross-country rally due to be held in the Portalegre municipality in the eastern part of Portugal from October 22nd to October 24th this year.
The specially developed vehicle will be driven by Mr. Hiroshi Masuoka of MMC, who won the Dakar Rally twice in two years in 2002 and 2003. Mr. Masuoka will also be playing a role as the team captain. The team led by Mr Masuoka is heavily populated by MMC personnel, including the team manager and technical director Mr. Yasuo Tanaka. Mr Tanaka is an engineering expert from the EV Component Research Department within MMC’s Development Engineering Office and will be supported by four engineers from his department.
Since its inception in 1987, the Baja Portalegre 500, which celebrates its 29th edition this year, is a cross-country rally organised by the Portuguese Automobile Association. Contestants will be driving approximately 500 kilometers at high speed over mainly dirt roads. The course provides the arena for the 9th Round of the FIA Cross Country Rally World Cup and is known as an event in which rally aces from all over the world participate each year as a warm-up to the Dakar Rally, the world’s most punishing event of its type. This competition is has three separate categories - automobile, motor bike and quad – with over 300 vehicles expected to take part.
Based on the production model but with modifications required for a rally car, this Outlander PHEV has been entered by MMC to promote development of EV and 4WD technologies. It uses the production model’s drive battery – which forms the heart of a plug-in hybrid vehicle – with modifications to its structure to realise greater capacity and output. The control system governing the motors has also been modified to deliver a higher output. In addition, the generator and engine which supply power to the battery and motors have been modified to increase power output and boost overall system performance.
As for the body, in addition to the fitting of a roll cage and other safety equipment, off-road performance has been improved in order to take full advantage of the upgraded PHEV system. Detail changes include a higher ground clearance and longer suspension stroke together with larger diameter rally tyres. These changes will enhance the Outlander PHEV’s performance limits under punishing rally conditions and the valuable data gathered during the event will be fed back into the development of production cars.
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