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Friday, 5 June 2009

Mitsubishi follows Subaru and presents its electric vehicle, i-MiEV

Subaru has announced it will start selling the electric car Plug-In Stella EV to customers by July 2009. Mitsubishi has seized the World Environment Day, last Friday, to present another electric vehicle to customers, the i-MiEV (Mitsubishi innovative Electric Vehicle). In fact, this presentation is only useful for Japanese authorities and corporations, once the car will only be delivered to regular consumers by April 2010. Even considering this, the new i-MiEV may be worth waiting for: it goes farther than Stella (160 km, against 90 km of range from the Subaru), it is roomier (2.55 m of wheelbase) and it is cheaper (4,380,000 yens, against 4,725,000 yens, or a little more than US$ 44,300 against US$ 50,000). Some may also say it is better looking than Stella, and we will be obliged to agree.

The same subsidy that Stella owner candidates will be eligible to receive can also be applied to i-MiEV. In other words, the car can cost 1,390,000 yens less, or about US$ 14,000. In other words, when i-MiEV starts to be sold, in 2010, it may cost around US$ 30,000.

The i-MiEV is based on one of the most fantastic kei cars available in Japan, the Mitsubishi i. Although it is only 3.40 m long, 1.48 m wide and 1.60 m tall, it has an amazing wheelbase of 2.55 m, 5 cm longer than Honda Jazz/Fit, for example. The original vehicle manages to have such a roomy interior due to its engine, which is placed just ahead of the rear axle. Mitsubishi calls it a rear midship engine. This is what Volkswagen was planning to do with the future Lupo, known as the up! concept, but the German company apparently gave up on this idea. Too bad...

The i-MiEV follows the same sort of engine arrangement. It uses a single shift gearbox due to the amazing torque electric engines have in any condition. It is 200 kg heavier than a regular i (1,100 kg, against 900 kg), what has surely made it present a worse performance. Speaking of it, Mitsubishi does not refer to top speed or acceleration figures. Engine specs are almost equal to Subaru Plug-In Stella EV: 47 kW (64 bhp) from 3,000 rpm to 6,000 rpm and 180 Nm from 0 to 2,000 rpm.

Charging times vary according to the source of energy output. In case you only have a 110V outlet, it will take you 14 hours to fully charge the battery. In a 220V outlet, full charges take 7 hours, what would allow someone to get home, plug the car and use it again the next morning. Anyway, Mitsubishi will also offer quick-charge stations throughout Japan in order to allow at least 80% of charge in around 30 minutes.

Inside the car, the gearbox selector will have three positions, besides the regular R, N and P: D, for driving with full power, Eco, which saves energy and B, for maximum regenerative brake bias. The displays will present to the driver the necessary data in order to avoid surprises (or being out of energy away from home): power consumption, energy recovery, battery residual charge indicator and a range indicator which calculates how far can the driver go the way he has been driving for the last few kilometres.

Mitsubishi will produce the same car for Peugeot and Citroën in order to become the French carmakers first electric car, as it already does with Peugeot 4007 and Citroën C-Crosse, both badge engineered versions of Mitsubishi Outlander.

Source: Mitsubishi

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