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Mitsubishi Electric Cars

10 October 2011

North American spec i-MiEV. Click to enlarge.

Mitsubishi’s North American-spec i-MiEV battery electric vehicle (earlier post )available in either an ES base model or upgrade SE trim package will be available to test drive at US dealerships beginning in November 2011 with the first scheduled customer vehicle deliveries set to commence in early 2012.

Mitsubishi is positioning the North American i-MiEV electric vehicle as the most affordably-priced mass-produced EV available in the US. Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) is $29,125$6,075 less than electric vehicles produced by other mainstream automobile manufacturersfor the base ES model before a federal tax credit of $7,500 and available state financial incentives (subject to availability of funding).

Compared to the original Japan/EU-spec i-MiEV, this new US-spec electric vehicle features a roomier interior and improved safety features, due to a 110mm (4.3-inch) wider track and redesigned front and rear bumpers, a Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) and an Acoustic Vehicle Alerting System (AVAS) to warn pedestrians of the approaching EV. A redesigned center console featuring improved materials will also feature prominently on the new North American Mitsubishi i-MiEV.

Background. First shown as a concept vehicle at the 2003 Frankfurt Motor Show, the production car version of Mitsubishi i was introduced to the Japanese public in January 2006. In its home market, the Mitsubishi i was a keijidōshaa light vehicle class or kei carpowered by a 12-valve, 659cc DOHC inline-3-cylinder engine that featured the MIVEC (Mitsubishi Innovative Valve timing Electronic Control system) for maximum power output and fuel efficiency.

The engine placement is just forward of the rear axle and behind the rear seat. Positioned low and toward the center of the chassis, it gives the car a low center of gravity for excellent handling and stability while also maximizing interior volume. It is this concept of optimal packaging of the drivetrain components that made the i the logical choice when Mitsubishi decided to make a 100% electric-powered vehicle as it was relatively easy for engineers to swap the gasoline engine for an electric motor and stow the lithium-ion battery pack beneath the sub-floor.

i-MiEV, Japan-spec. Mitsubishi launched the i-MiEV (Mitsubishi innovative Electric Vehicle) in Japan in mid-2009. With a 16 kWh lithium-ion battery pack, 47 kW (63 horsepower) electric motor and single-speed reduction gear transmission, the Mitsubishi i-MiEV has an approximate range of 160 kilometers (99 miles) in the Japanese 10-15 mode urban driving pattern and a top speed of approximately 130 km/h (81 mph).

Following its launch at home, the i-MiEV entered into the Hong Kong and Australian markets in 2010. By the end of that year, the EU version of the Mitsubishi i-MiEV was launched in Germany, followed by the United Kingdom at the beginning of 2011.

Mitsubishi i-MiEV, North American-Spec. The North American production vehicle features a more powerful 49 kW AC synchronous electric motor (66 bhp), an 88-cell 16 kWh lithium-ion battery pack and includes an onboard battery charger. The N.A.

Mitsubishi i is rated by the EPA to attain 126 mpg equivalency in city driving and 99 mpg in highway driving and achieves a “real world” EPA driving range of 62 miles (98 miles in the EPA LA4 city unadjusted).

The vehicle’s batteries can be recharged in approximately 22 hours by the included 120V Level 1 portable charging cable, 7 hours by a dedicated 240v Level 2 EVSE charger (available for home installation by select retailers or utility companies), and receive an 80% charge in under 30 minutes from a public Level 3 quick charging station via the optional charging port (a separate port on the opposite flank of the car). The 2012 Mitsubishi i-MiEV uses the CHAdeMO protocol for high-speed EV charging.

Standard appointments on all Mitsubishi i models include a 4 speaker, 100-watt AM/FM/CD audio system with MP3/WMA playback capability; speed-sensitive Electric Power Steering (EPS); LED tail lamps; a driver’s seat heater; an electric manual air conditioning system with micron filter; and a vehicle security and immobilizer anti-theft system. An advanced airbag system consisting of dual-stage front airbags, driver and front-passenger seat-mounted side-impact supplemental airbags and roof-mounted curtain side-impact supplemental air bags; 4-wheel anti-lock brakes (ABS) with Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD); and Active Stability Control (ASC) with Traction Control Logic (TCL) are also included as standard equipment.

Vehicle options include a Cold Zone package that includes heated outside mirrors and a battery warming system for the main lithium-ion battery pack ($150 MSRP) and a Premium Package available with the upgrade SE trim level that includes an HDD navigation system with rear view camera, DC quick charging port and the FUSE Hands-free Link System with USB port and steering wheel-mounted audio controls ($2,790 MSRP).

Location of the battery pack. Click to enlarge.

Battery pack. The 16 kWh battery pack is located beneath the vehicle’s interior floor (sub-floor) and the chassis (body frame) inside a specially-designed stainless-steel protective battery case. This design not only helps to protect the battery pack in an accident but also minimizes penetration of objects/debris that can be picked up from the road surface while driving.

Additionally, this stout support structure also aids the vehicle’s structural rigidity as it is bolted directly onto the chassis.

Mitsubishi estimates that after 5 years, the capacity of the Main Drive Lithium-ion battery will be approximately 80% of its original capacity. After 10 years, the capacity should be approximately 70%. Other factors that can adversely affect battery capacity over time include frequent driving using aggressive acceleration/deceleration, repeated frequent use of the quick charger, and vehicle operation/storage in extreme temperature environments.

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