2015 Mitsubishi GC-PHEV Concept Displays a Clean and Connected Future in Chicago

Written By: EightySix

Edited By: Assen Gueorguiev


Back in 2013, Mitsubishi unveiled a flashy lineup of electric and plug-in concepts at the Tokyo Auto Show. The company that brought us the under-selling but revolutionary i-MiEV continues to push toward an electric future. This week in Chicago, it displayed an updated version of its full-sized SUV of the future: the GC-PHEV.

GC stands for Grand Cruiser. It certainly makes a grand initial impression. Its stance is muscular with faceted fenders and a tall, sloping waistline. The LED head-lamps are narrow and squinting. The doors swing open front and rear to reveal a broad pillar-less access to both rows of seats. The roof is a multi-panel arrangement of glass to provide generous amounts of light.

The Power

Propulsion is provided by a supercharged 3.0 liter MIVEC V6 assisted by a 70 kW electric motor. The hybrid system is linked to an eight speed automatic transmission. A 12 kWh battery is mounted under the rear cargo area. Estimated electric range is 25 miles with a combined output of 400+ horsepower to all four wheels. Super All-Wheel Control balances power to each wheel through front and rear differentials to maximize traction. Active yaw control reduces body roll while cornering.

The Control

Mitsubishi gc-phev concept - Tactical table

The focal point of the interior is the Tactical Table. This touch-screen information system is mounted in between all four seats to provide every passenger access to Mitsubishi's Connected Car apps. The system can read and connect cell phones placed on the table. Occupants can customize entertainment, access the internet, create personal maps and share driving plans with the world.

All four seats swivel in toward the table, implying that you may never want to leave the car. Once you've arrived, you can sit under the broad moon-roof and play games all night under the stars. An obvious drawback, however, is that the full-sized Grand Cruiser only seats four. It is only a concept, but it gives more importance to the gleaming console than to functionality and passenger space.

The Protection

Mitsubishi's future aspirations involve a range of safety features. The AR (Augmented Reality) Windshield is the heart. Driving information is displayed on the windshield to keep the driver's eyes up. An array of sensors watches blind spots and warns the driver to potential collisions. The system can sense pedestrians and apply the brakes automatically. It also watches for driver inattentiveness and can warn when the vehicle leaves its lane.

This flight of safety features will be eventually applied to many upcoming Mitsubishis. The GC-PHEV and other concepts are a means of testing and perfecting these technologies.

The Future

A release date for the Grand Cruiser has not been announced. It may never be for sale in this version. Likely it is a hint for either the Montero's replacement or the Montero's facelift.

Overall, it displays the new direction for Mitsubishi. "We brought the Concept GC-PHEV to Chicago because it showcases into our future technology and design themes," said Executive Vice President Don Swearingen. Mitsubishi's future will be electric, either fully or partially. The future will involve semi-autonomous features and sensors to augment the driver's senses. All occupants will be more connected to the world through the car.

And Mitsubishi wants to make driving ultra-easy. It thinks the car should anticipate the needs of passengers and the driver similar to a Google search. Unnecessary knobs and dials will be stripped away. The system will use algorithms to decide which three navigation or infotainment functions you will need at any moment. Three buttons on the steering wheel will link you to these actions. The car will also accept input via voice, eye tracking and hand waving.

The GC-PHEV is a strong statement, alas many believe it doesn’t quite catch the eye. In a seven seat form, it could be something great. The Tactical Table, however, promises to displace at least one passenger. Perhaps it would be more appropriate in a game room than a car.