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Mitsubishi i MiEV 2009 Review

The company is showing its i MiEV, or Mitsubishi innovative Electric Vehicle to media, fleet companies and government ministers for evaluation as Japan gears up for the first run of 2000 production vehicles.

The i MiEV is the first full certified electric vehicle in Australia, a process Mitsubishi CEO Robert McEniry described as challenging and an exciting day for the company.

"This is really the start of the future for the car industry, I think we'll see a lot more of these vehicles being introduced into the marketplace,” he says.

"It's the first fully-certified electric vehicle in the Australian market - that's a real breakthrough for us but it was a long arduous process.

"The car you see is ready for volume sale, Australia is the first country to get full certification.”

McEniry says the company will get a handful more cars later in the year for long-term evaluation, with a view to going on sale in 2010, but refused to comment on a price for the car.

While prices were a taboo subject — McEniry was determined not to talk price yet — the company is looking at other technology as a guide to what will develop with electric cars.

"There's no doubt the technology will improve, we use the mobile phone analogy, where you needed a trailer and a couple of months at the gym to use the phone,” he says.

"Now we have these microsystems and new battery technology, one would anticipate the same process would follow with electric vehicles as well.”

Mitsubishi is also looking to the nation's governments for assistance in encouraging the adoption of new automotive technology.

"In every other country the vehicle has been tested in, the governments have been very pro-active in assisting the introduction of these electric vehicles into the marketplace. We haven't discussed that with them here yet,” McEniry says.

He believes that providing tax relief, infrastructure assistance or subsidies is an opportunity the government should not ignore.

"I think direct subsidies is probably the way to, initially we're only talking very small numbers and an education process, this is about CO2 reductions and this car can be the sentinel for that," he says.

Driving

Eerie silence is all that you get with a twist of the switch where a key once went.

The i MiEV electric car — the first certified for sale in Australia — is then `READY’ according to the dashboard indicator.

Stealthy silence — which could be useful to frighten wayward pedestrians — and a faint whirr is all that is heard as the battery and electric motor — underneath the back seat — drive the rear wheels.

As a city commuter car to get from A to B (or should that be AA to D) the i MiEV is simple to steer, light and remarkably swift.

A proper push on the accelerator heading up Montefiore Hill kicks the electric car quickly forward, with the instant torque from the electric motor quickly bringing Colonel Light into view.

The drivetrain has three models: Drive for full power, Eco mode for lower torque and longer range and Brake mode, which increases the amount of regenerative braking that puts charge back into the battery.

Despite a tall body the little four-seater doesn't lean excessively (most of the weight is down low) and there's enough room for four adults.


Drivetrain: lithium-ion battery and a compact high-output permanent magnet synchronous electric motor.

Power: 47kW

Torque: 180Nm

Range: 160km

Top speed: 130km/h (restricted)

Performance: 1.5 seconds faster to 80km/h than petrol equivalent.

Consumption and battery stats: 88 batteries in pack, weighs 200kg. One quarter the emissions of a petrol equivalent, half the emissions of equivalent petrol-electric hybrid. Saves one tonne of CO2 emissions per 10,000km travelled. Seven hours for a full battery charge on a home powerpoint; 30 minutes for 80 per cent charge on a fast-charger system. 10-year, 160,000km battery life. A full charge could cost as little as $2.50 on an off-peak tariff.

Pricing Guides

$12,100
Based on third party pricing data
Lowest Price
$10,230
Highest Price
$13,970

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
(base) —, EV, 1 SP AUTO $10,230 – 13,970 2011 Mitsubishi I-MIEV 2011 (base) Pricing and Specs
Stuart Martin
Contributing Journalist

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