Plug-in before Christmas
THE electric era in Australian motoring will begin before the end of the year. Mitsubishi is committed to landing the first genuine production plug-in car— its iMiEV— in December ahead of full-scale but low-volume sales next year.
The move means it will be first with an electric car, though Nissan and Smart are into the finishing straight with plans for 2011 and Mini is will probably be an early runner with the production version of the Mini E now being tested in several countries including Britain.
‘‘We are totally ready,’’ Mitsubishi Motors Australia managing director Rob McEniry says. ‘‘We know our strategy for introducing it. I want the first iMiEV here in December.
‘‘We’re not sure how many will come. It could be 20, or five, or one. The product is so strong globally that it’s a fight to get cars.
‘‘Next year we’ll have more cars, but total production is still only 2000 cars, so we won’t have a flood of them.’’
McEniry says Mitsubishi is still working through the many ques- tions raised by electric cars, from plug-in points to government assistance. He says his company is pushing ahead without all the answers, meaning it will probably lease the first cars to make sure customers are not hurt if there is a later government cash pack.
‘‘I think the first lot of cars we’ll put on the market we will lease. The expectation is the price will come down significantly next year as production of the batteries ramps up and we have the ability to build more cars,’’ he says.
He is also screening potential owners, looking for ambassadors who will push the iMiEV message without going for known greenies or government sales.
‘‘We have identified people but we haven’t talked to them. We’ll target them once we get the cars,’’ he says. ‘‘We would be looking for someone with absolute integrity about the whole thing, and highly recognised ambassadors.’’
Mitsubishi’s iMiEV electric car will be in Australia in December.