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Mitsubishi i goes electric (2007)
18 June 2007 09:53
Mitsubishi i: the electric era looms
Mitsubishi’s first fully electric car slated for mid-2010 release in Japan will be the i city car – and UK bosses are secretly preparing to launch it here by early 2011. A research vehicle called the i MIEV (Mitsubishi Innovative Electric Vehicle) is already being tested and, according to UK managing director Jim Tyrrell who drove it recently in Japan, 'looks road-ready and perfect'. Tyrrell is confident of selling 2000-3000 electric i cars, as UK buyers are cottoning on fast to the benefits of green cars. The conventionally powered 0.7-litre petrol version of the urban runabout goes on sale in Britain from 1 July with an initial allocation of 300 units - and if it proves to be a big success, Tyrrell will campaign to import the electric version to the UK soon after. Prices are theoretical at this stage, but Tyrrell predicts a £3000-4000 premium over the petrol's £9084 price tag. That's a lot for a tiny city car, but don't forget that this will be one of very few zero-emissions cars on sale.
So where does all the electric gubbins go?
The i's rear-engined layout and platform is particularly suited to electric propulsion: the lithium-ion battery fits where the under-seat fuel tank on the petrol version goes, while the electric motor and on-board charger live in the engine bay. The electric motor develops 47kW (equivalent to about 63bhp) and 133lb ft of torque – making it more muscular than the conventional petrol-powered i. It even tops a heady 81mph. The i MIEV has two plugs for recharging. The quick-charge plug can achieve 80 percent capacity in only 25 minutes (but requires a fast-charging infrastructure still under development), while the onboard charger works with today's ordinary household electric plug sockets – but this takes a considerably longer at between seven and 13 hours depending on local country voltage.