Plug-in car here soon

Mit­subishi goes straight to elec­tric power, writes PAUL GOVER

Herald Sun - Motoring - - News -

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).

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