Plug-in be­fore Christ­mas

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Front Page -

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.’’

Elec­tric first:

Mit­subishi’s iMiEV elec­tric car will be in Aus­tralia in De­cem­ber.

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