Plug-in car here soon
Mitsubishi goes straight to electric power, writes PAUL GOVER
AUSTRALIA will have its first plug-in electric car by the end of next year. The Mitsubishi i MiEV has been confirmed for local sales, with a showroom target in the final months of 2009 and a starting price of about $30,000.
The company plans to skip the hybrid phase and go straight to a plug-in with a claimed top of 180km/h and a range of 200km.
‘‘Mitsubishi don’t make hybrid cars. They make electric cars. And we will have one here as soon as we possibly can,’’ Mitsubishi Motors Australia managing director Rob McEniry says.
‘‘We’ll have the i-car initially, but it doesn’t go into volume production until next year.
‘‘How many we get depends on the reaction by some of the key fleets in Australia and governments. We would dearly like to have a number of them here in 2009.’’
The i MiEV has been a motor show concept until recently, both as a standard car and a sports model. Mitsubishi is pushing ahead with a production plan for the aluminium-framed baby.
It has an power pack using lithium-ion batteries and three motors, one for each of the front wheels and the third for the back axle.
The power pack is in the rear, creating maximum cabin space, despite a length of only 3.4m.
‘‘Mitsubishi is determined to retain its leadership in electric cars,’’ McEniry says.
‘‘Mitsubishi is very environmentally focused, and with the products we have, and the products coming, we will be in a position to strengthen our brand.’’
He will not talk specifics on pricing or deliveries, but admits the i MiEV will not be cheap.
‘‘Some of the hybrids were very expensive to start with, but that changed as they became more accessible, and this should be the same,’’ McEniry says.
‘‘Initially, because these vehicles are at the cutting-edge, they will be sold through a lease arrangement. They have them running in Japan with test fleets, such as government departments. That would probably be the way to go it here, too.
‘‘I would definitely like to be first with an electric car. In a similar way to the Lancer Evolution, it demonstrates the leading technologies that Mitsubishi has and the importance of them.’’
From show concept to production: the Mitsubishi i MiEV and the power pack (below).