In a bit of good news from Mitsubishi, the Tri-Star badged automaker is reportedly intending to distribute its first plug-in electric car in Japan, North America and Europe beginning next year. The 100 mile driving range i MiEV was previously only destined for mostly fleet duty, but after positive developments in preparation for mass production, the company has decided that increasing production is a potential cash cow for the typically second-tier sales producing Japanese automaker. The new plan involves launching the i MiEV electric car in Japan as early as the summer of 2009.
Despite its diminutive “slightly-smaller-than-a-VW -Rabbit” size, the i MiEV is not bargain-priced. Even with Japanese Government subsidies the price tag is estimated to be roughly $28,000. However, judging by the lavish praise of those that have driven the car, the price does not appear to be prohibitive to the car’s success. Capable of a top speed of 81 mph, the I MiEV’s lithium-ion battery pack was jointly developed by Mitusubishi and the GS Yuasa Corporation to facilitate up to a 100 mile driving range depending on which batter version is selected. The lower model can travel a still respectable range of just over 80 miles.
Because of the vehicle’s rear-engine configuration results in a surprising roomy interior that is not typical with most city cars. The 330-volt Li-Ion battery pack is situated under the floor, and the charger, inverter, and electric motor are all contained in the space under the rear cargo area and ahead of the rear wheels. The plug-in port for charging up the car is situated on the right side. Normal recharging takes between 7 and 14 hours depending on what type of power source is used. However, a “quick-charger, which resides where the gas cap used to be, can be connected to special Japanese power company stations that offer an 80% charge in just 30 minutes. Japan is already investing heavily in such “away from home” charging areas to allow people to travel further and more quickly using EV vehicles. Quick-charge stations like the one being developed in Japan will need to be part of the future EV-ready infrastructure of any country, as they’ll allow people to recharge rapidly when on the road away from home.