i Miev


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Although Mitsubishi is testing the iMiev electric car in fleets throughout the world, official production isn’t intended to start until 2010. To meet its production goals, Mitsubishi is adapting the car to different world markets. At the Geneva auto show, Mitsubishi showed off a prototype that meets European legal requirements. It also features a refinement necessary for the U.S. introduction: left-hand drive. Along with the iMiev, Mitsubishi showed off a sport version concept with a more powerful motor.

The sexy electric Roadster by Tesla Motors has been getting a lot of attention ever since the first photos came out a few years ago. Part of that attention comes from its looks, which were different from most electric cars that came before, but what’s under the hood is just as interesting.

Tesla Roadster Electric Car Photo

 

BYD is a huge Chinese battery maker who recently started making plug-in hybrids and electric cars. Despite delays some delays in introducing EVs to the US, it is on track to become a big player in the next few years. The electric E6 pictured here is BYD’s battery-powered crossover. There’s also the BYD F3DM and F6DM.

BYD E6 Electric Car photo
The XS500 by the Miles Automotive Group is expected to be a highway-capable electric car sold for $30,000-35,000 in the United States around 2009-2010.
Miles XS500 EV Electric Car photo
the i MiEV by Mitsubishi is a small battery electric car that has got a lot of press lately. Mitsubishi has announced that it would start producing it a year in advance (2009 instead of 2010), and 2,000 i MiEVs will be made in the production run.
Mitsubishi i MiEV electric car photo

The R1E is a small urban battery electric car by Subaru. It was recently tested around New York City.

Subaru r1e electric car photo
The EV1 is now almost a legend, partly because it was one of the first electric cars that the average person could actually drive, and partly because of GM’s campaign to destroy them (see Who Killed the Electric Car?). Recently an EV1 that avoided being crushed was sold for $465k.
GM EV1 Electric Car photo
The REVA (known as the G-Wiz i in the UK) is a small city electric car from India. It’s not the most high-tech EV, and at 745 kg (1,640 lb), it’s definitely not the biggest. But it’s been in production since 2001 and the new version features an improved range.
REVA electric car photo
The ZENN (Zero Emission, No Noise) is a 2-seater neighborhood battery electric car. It has a range of up to 40 miles (64 km) and does not exceed 25 mph (40 km/h). This green car has been in production since 2006.
ZENN EV Electric Car photo
The Tango is an ultra-narrow electric sports car built by Commuter Cars. It sells for an eye-popping $108,000 (you could get a Tesla Roadster for that kind of money), and it is better known as “that electric car that George Clooney drives“. It can do 0-60 mph in 4 seconds.
Tango Electric Car photo
The Aptera 2e (formerly the Typ-1e) is a super-efficient electric vehicle designed be Aptera motors, and it probably has the most avant-garde look of all electric cars featured here. The company also plans a plug-in hybrid version that would get about 300 MPG if plugged in every 120 miles. Google has invested money in the company. The all-electric model will sell for $27,000 and the series plug-in hybrid version will sell for $30,000.
Aptera Electric Car photo
The GM Volt is a “range-extended” electric car is scheduled for 2011. It should be able to drive 40 miles in all-electric mode before a gas engine kicks in to recharge the batteries. More information and photos about the Volt can be found here.
GM Volt plug in electric car photo
Like the GM Volt, the Fisker Karma is a “range-extended” electric car. Its all-electric range is 50 miles, and over that a gas engine kicks in to generate power and recharge the batteries. Fisker has recently opened an engineering center near Detroit
Fisker Karma plug in electric car photo

In the fall of 2008 Chrysler unveiled three electric car concepts, saying that it would produce one. The first is the Dodge EV, an electric sports car.

Dodge EV electric sports car photo

i MIEV

The “slap, slap slap” of raindrops on the windshield, ricocheting through the Spartan little cabin of the i MIEV, takes some getting used to on a rainy day, says David Patterson, who heads up Mitsubishi’s electric vehicle program in North America.

The almost dead silence of the running vehicle itself is just one of many adjustments we’ll need to make when, or if, electric vehicles go mainstream, he adds. When the only noise the car makes is the whir of its electric motor and the faint thrum of the tires, whatever else is out there resonates, says Patterson.

What will that mean for consumers, and just as importantly, for pedestrians who will no longer be able to use their ears to judge traffic? Mitsubishi is searching for these answers right now in anticipation of the commercial launch of the i MIEV this summer in Japan.

So the i MIEV on the Mitsubishi stand at the Canadian International Auto Show is not a concept, but a real car. Mitsubishi Canada has designs to sell it here, too, though no one is talking about a launch date – officially.

Quietly, on the side, we’re hearing talk about putting a fleet of i MIEVs on the streets of Vancouver during the 2010 Winter Olympics. Mitsubishi Canada might be able to sell 2,000 a year in Canada. They’d be city cars for the crowded downtowns of Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver, at least to start.

Take a close look at the i MIEV at the show. It is a minicar, pretty much like any current showroom model from Mitsubishi.

The vehicle starts life as the i minicar sold in Japan with a small gasoline motor. So that’s the ‘i” part. MIEV stands for Mitsubishi Innovative Electric Vehicle.

What’s innovative? The i’s regular four-speed automatic transmission has been replaced by a two-position gear selector that lets you choose Drive or Eco mode. And where the tachometer normally goes on the instrument panel, this i sports a meter that indicates the charge status of the battery and the discharge rate.

But the critical innovation is the lithium ion battery back. Lithium ion batteries are smaller, lighter and more powerful than conventional nickel-metal hydride batteries and they are what makes the i MIEV work – what gives it decent performance and range that in ultra Eco mode can extend to 160 km, though 100 km is probably more realistic.

The i MIEV’s batteries have been co-developed by Mitsubishi Motors, GS Yuasa Ltd. and Mitsubishi Trading Co. That, says Patterson, is one of the things that gives Mitsu an advantage in what is shaping up to be the electrification of the automobile.

A few quick details: the i MIEV’s motor, inverter and charger are located under the floor of the luggage area behind the driver, with 22 lithium-ion cells artfully spread under the belly pan. A rear-mounted, permanent-magnet synchronous motor develops 63 horsepower and 133 pound-feet of torque.

Patterson says the i MIEV is pretty sprightly around down: 0-100 km/hour is possible in around 9.0 seconds, but it feels faster because all that electric thrust goes right to the wheels.

Of course, with electric cars, the vehicle itself is just one of the issues. There is also the electric charging mechanism for the car and infrastructure to support recharging.

For this runabout, there is plug-in recharging using the regular grid. That takes 14 hours for a full charge on a 110-volt domestic outlet or half that time on a 220-volt industrial outlet. Patterson says Mitsubishi has also developed its own quick-charge system that replenishes 80 per cent of the battery charge in just 30 minutes.

If you charge at night when the electric grid is not so busy – at least in Japan where Mitsu has done fleet testing for more than a year – you can reduce your running costs by 87 per cent compared to the conventional gasoline-powered i.

So if you take into account the CO2 emissions produced by Japan’s electric power plants (mostly nuclear) the i MIEV emits only 28 per cent of the CO2 of a comparable gasoline-powered i.

Finally price. Mitsu officials hint at $25,000 or so, though Patterson is not willing to be pinned down on a price tag here in Canada.

What he will say is that the Japanese government subsidies zero-emissions cars and they slice the price by 50 per cent. Something similar in Canada would surely kick-start an electric car business here.

In any case, have a look at the i MIEV for yourself. It’s at the show running until Feb. 22.

Sketch of Mitsubishi’s Prototype i Miev electric plug-in sports car.

(Credit: Mitsubishi)

Mitsubishi released a more detailed sketch of its Prototype i Miev on Thursday.

The all-electric sports car concept is set to debut at the Geneva Motor Show this March alongside the i Mieve Sport Air concept car.

Both are follow-ups to Mitsubishi’s i Miev hatchback, which is currently undergoing “feasibility testing” in Europe. The hatchback, which is scheduled to go on sale in Japan sometime this year, can be plugged into any household outlet for recharging.

Though at 7 hours to recharge at 200V outlets and and 14 hours at 100V outlets, owners may opt for a higher-voltage option.

 

The i Miev hatchback all electric plug-in due out soon in Japan and possibly Europe.