Mitsubishi ConceptCT: 2006 North American International Auto Show
Mitsubishi Considers North American Small Car Entry
Updated February 1, 2006
As Mitsubishi considers the option of an economy or image compact entry for North America, the ConceptCT arrives on the 2006 auto show circuit, starting with the 2006 Detroit auto show in January. The concept uses a system Mitsubishi calls MIEV (Mitsubishi In-wheel Electronic Vehicle) technology. The basics of the system, which uses outer-rotor, in-wheel electric motors to move all four wheels as well as a 1.0L three-cylinder gasoline engine, was introduced at the 2005 Tokyo Motor Show. By using the electric motors and a traditional gasoline engine, Mitsubishi is creating a type of hybrid system. While the final decision on a B-segment for the States has not yet been taken, Mitsubishi is seriously considering the option, as well as exploring variations on hybrid technology.
The Small Car Challenge
The challenge for any maker introducing a new small car to the American market is how to cut through the clutter and make their small car entry a car buyers want rather than one they are “sentenced” to drive. Achieving an aspirational small car has been the holy grail of automakers since the days of the Pinto and Vega, but Scion and Mini have been successful of late with the xB, xA, and Cooper.
ConceptCT Designed In California
Though ConceptCT was designed at the Mitsubishi Motors Design Center in Cypress, California, it carries a much more Japanese flavor than American. Of course, as Mitsubishi looks to embody a style they call J-Cool (Japanese-Cool), this is appropriate for their intent. According to Mitsu’s PR machine, the ConceptCT was inspired by sleek high-performance scooters popular in Japanese cities.
As the CT is also envisioned for more urban use, the concept featured a relatively long (102.4 inches) wheelbase compared with a short overall length (149.6 inches) to maximize interior space while minimizing its shadow. The rear doors opened butterfly-style, easing access to the rear of the car, and the rear hatch split horizontally both upper glass and lower tailgate ready to open.
With its rear-midship layout and hybrid powertrain, the ConceptCT sits on a new small-car platform that could be adopted for production, but is not currently used. (Rear midship refers to a layout where the gasoline engine is behind the rear passengers but ahead of the rear axle.)
Almost as important as the powertrain was the chance for Mitsubishi to explore interior possibilities for small cars. In this case, Mitsubishi designers used structural elements as design elements as well, including the parallel supports for the main controls. The instrument panel featured wall-to-wall screen displays for everything driver and passenger need, including navigation, rear/side-view mirrors, and entertainment (in park only). The flat screen in the center handled climate control and audio information.
As has been demonstrated on many concepts over the past few years, the seats were a floating structure for more flexibility. Front passenger and rear seatbacks folded flat for longer loads, the cushions on the rear seats could be folded up to put loads in the rear passenger zone, and there was also cargo space in the nose, just like the old VW Beetle.