When it comes to hybrid cars, there seem to be two types – cars that were designed from the start to be hybrids, and cars that started out as internal combustion-only models, but that gained a hybrid option along the way. Mitsubishi Motors, however, is now claiming that its soon-to-be-released New Outlander SUV will be the first mainstream car from a major manufacturer envisaged from the outset with built-in provisions for either combustion or plug-in hybrid power trains.

What this means is that the New Outlander will be available both in an internal combustion engine (ICE) version, and a plug-in hybrid EV (PHEV) model. The PHEV model claims two additional firsts, as it will be Mitsubishi’s first plug-in hybrid car, and will reportedly be “the first permanent 4WD electric car in series production.”

The New Outlander PHEV will have two electric motors, one providing power to the front wheels, with the other assigned to the rear wheels. It will also have a petrol engine that can be used to generate electricity to run the motors, or to provide power to the front wheels.

This configuration will allow for three driving modes - Pure, in which only the two electric motors are used; Series, in which the two motors are supported by the petrol generator; and Parallel, which would see the petrol engine providing most of the power, supported by the two electric motors.

The company claims that the PHEV model should offer performance similar to that of its Concept PX-MiEV II show car, with a driving distance of over 800 kilometers (497 miles), and targeted CO2 emissions below 50 g/km. Little else in the way of specs are available at this time.

Mitsubishi will be unveiling the New Outlander PHEV at the upcoming 2012 Paris Motor Show, which takes place September 29th to October 14th, with a European commercial roll-out planned for 2013. The ICE model should be introduced in Europe in the fall (Northern Hemisphere) of this year.