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Tuesday, October 10, 2006

More on Mitsubishi MIEV: Mistu to Sell Electric Car in U.S.

AutoWeek (via Green Car Congress) reports that Mistubishi Motors has again said they plan to sell a small electric car in the United States.

President Osamu Masuko told AutoWeek that the vehicle, powered by a lithium-ion battery, will be launched first in Japan. A hybrid version of the car also might be available, Masuko added.

Timing and sales volume targets were not disclosed but a detailed announcement about the car is expected shortly (stay tuned).

"From an environmental standpoint, we believe the electric car is the way to go because it has zero emissions," Masuko said here last week at a Mitsubishi dealer meeting. "Fuel cell technology is still off in the future. Diesels are big in Europe but not in Japan and the U.S."

Mitsubishi has been testing hybrid and electric cars in Japan for over a year (see previous post). They have used both a two-wheel drive Colt and a four-wheel drive Lancer as test beds for their electric vehicle architecture.

In January, Mistu unveiled an electric-dominant hybrid concept car, the Concept-CT MIEV (pictured above) at the Detroit auto show (see this previous post for a rundown of this and other 'green machines' at the Detroit show). They also unvieled a pure electric concept vehicle, the Concept-EZ MIEV, at the Geneva International Auto Show in February.

Both concept vehicles feature Mitsubishi's In-wheel motor Electric Vehicle, or MIEV, architecture (see graphics below, and this previous post for more).

[Graphic: Mistubishi's In-wheel motor Electric Vehicle architecture can be applied to any electric drive vehicle architecture, including hybrids, plug-in hybrids, electric vehicles and fuel cell vehicles]

[Graphic: Exploded view of Mitsubishi's in-wheel motor]

The Concept-CT is an electric-dominant series/parallel hybrid, obtaining the majority of its drive torque via the electric in-wheel motors, which are powered by a 1.0-liter gasoline genset and Li-ion batteries in a conventional series-hybrid configuration. At constant speed, however, the Concept-CT can add engine-powered rear-wheel drive for extra driveability (the parallel-hybrid aspect). The Concept-CT MIEV has four doors but is smaller than Mistu's popular Lancer. Each wheel has its own electric in-wheel motor. The electric motors provide all-wheel drive without a traditional transmission, thus cutting weight and saving on space.

The Concept-EZ (pictured right) is an all-electric compact mono-box design that takes advantage of the space-saving properties of the MIEV archictecture (no transmission, no engine, etc.) to offer a very roomy interior inside a compact body. The Concept-EZ is powered by four in-wheel motors and a 24 kW lithium-ion battery system. The battery back, which weights in at 150 kg, is mounted under the floor and the absence of a centerline powertrain due to the MIEV design allows the Concept-EZ to provide a roomy interior despite its compact exterior.

During a previous interview, Mitsubishi executives told Automotive News that the production version of the MIEV concept might be based on the next-generation Colt, which is due before the end of the decade. A December 2005 article in the Chicago Tribune (sorry, it's in the archives now) reported that Mitsubishi planned to release an MIEV mini-car utilizing lithium-ion batteries to the U.S. market "after 2008."

So, it looks like we can expect Mitsubishi to offer a compact, electric-drive vehicle featuring the core technologies of MIEV and lithium-ion batteries sometime between 2008 and 2010. Stay tuned for more details...

[A hat tip to Green Car Congress, and the Energy Blog]

1 comment:

Ryos said...

Any word on how they deal with the extra unsprung weight?