Mitsubishi 2010 iMiEV First drive Electric icar heads Down Under GoAuto

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Mitsubishi i Electric Cars

First drive: Electric heads Down Under

We the automotive future according to the i-MiEV electric car

15 December

MITSUBISHI will import two i-cars to New Zealand in February, as of the Japanese manufacturer’s preparation for a roll-out that should Australia from 2010, it one of the few countries outside Japan to get of the 100 or so hand-built i-MiEV prototypes in

Mitsubishi NZ’s general of sales and marketing, Peter said the i-MiEV will be launched on February 10, with one car to to power company Meridian which is billed as NZ’s carbon-neutral power generation

Meridian will monitor absorption during charging and the impact more widespread use of cars would have on providing feedback to Mitsubishi as it goes.

The i-MiEV uses a overnight charging device, a winding charger that into a 15-amp wall Home sockets are 10-amp an earth pin the same size as the two. On a 15-amp plug the is longer; most switches rated to handle 15 amps, but wiring is 20-amp, so the only i-MiEV owners must is to their socket.

Cost to ‘fill’ is rarely but Mitsubishi NZ’s technical manager Lloyd Robinson If you can get people to charge at night it need an increase in generation as most water and wind-generated produced at night is wasted.

The car can go empty to full charge at for seven hours on just of electricity, based on the current Energy NZ rate.

That take the car 160km, while a system produces 80 per cent in just 30 minutes. Meridian evaluate these claims and the real-world range, and relate — and a possible electric explosion — to generation

Meanwhile, Mitsubishi NZ will run its i-MiEV through a full of press, government and corporate drives before both return to Japan later in the Once it arrives in earnest, Mr is confident the i-MiEV will

We’ve had interest from and local authorities, and a few corporations, he Some will buy into the new to support their market Others await the cost, And we yet give it, though we know be considerably more than the car.

Think of the cell Mr Wilkins says. It was costly at but now it’s almost a throw-away Nevertheless, Our suspicion is we won’t be to meet demand irrespective of for the first two or three years.

Mr Wilkins has confirmed next production numbers at 2000, by the availability of batteries, which be initially available to power and fleets within Japan.

Our is to get a few of the 2009 production if we can as a start and by 2010 we should be into the He expects 100-plus sales; It be 100, it might be 200, difficult to say without price.

If going to do it we want to do the job properly, that’s where availability in — we would hope to sufficient to meet NZ market

Those buying an i-MiEV effectively get a standard i-car, the same specification — air-conditioning and airbags — as the version, and in New Zealand the same user tax that cripples sales, but is levied at the pump for cars.

The differences are hidden. The lithium-ion batteries — 22 modules of four cells — fit beneath the floor with the motor inverter, the and control unit. They the fuel tank, with the motor displacing the rear-mounted engine.

Thus there are no modifications to the at all and no changes to passenger or luggage though the suspension is certainly to cope with the additional of weight.

We understand the struts as per the standard car, but springs and have changed. There’s no gearbox; instead there’s a drive and differential gears diff ratios around — ie: the motor, which up to 8500rpm, revolves 6.1 times for revolution of the rear wheels.

the layout’s now fixed, work on battery development aimed at weight and increasing range, batteries currently a joint-venture GS Yuasa, Mitsubishi Corporation and Motors Corporation.

Mitsubishi hundreds of patents on the vehicle, its and technology, including the electric and management.

There’s no expectation at stage that it will the technology, says Robinson, Mitsubishi has signed a technology with PSA Peugeot Citroen in to work together on electric in future.

Drive impressions:

AT Motor Corporation’s Tokachi, test track on other we spotted a diminutive i-car a difference. Forget the in-your-face it had a socket in place of the fuel This was Mitsubishi’s electric the i-MiEV.

Superficially it’s the same as a i-car. The same diminutive length, 1475mm width and height; the same wheels-to-the-corners and teardrop shape; the same interior.

But driving it is quite a experience as progress is silent, but for the of tyres on tarmac.

There’s low-down punch from this modest 47kW motor, which like all the pulls at its best from So where the standard 48kW/95Nm car relatively relaxed, the electric throws 180Nm at the road, torque only dropping to the petrol’s at higher revs.

zero to 80km/h acceleration is 1.5 faster for the electric i-car, and positively perky at round-town particularly during pulling-from-junction

Mitsubishi i Electric Cars

Cruising the straights of our test the i-MiEV initially felt like an i-car on speed. were taken with confidence, the sweeping bend at the end of our straight revealing an i-car’s average handling abilities but with less bodyroll.

a lot of extra weight beneath our keeping the centre of gravity low with over-fed motor aboard. Down the short curving into esses of and a tightening sweeper, the car’s limitations reappeared.

Just the standard i-car, this is a — not an open-road warrior and its electric version is even to sniff the outside of the apex. All extra weight clearly itself felt, though the is predictable and gradual — weight balance isn’t but the extra heft appears to be spread, the batteries stretching as far as beneath the driver seat.

To be fair, buyers aren’t to sample tightening-radius corners quite the brio we applied, the is unlikely to be discovered during jaunts and lighter batteries are in the

What could be problematic is the silence, for unlike a hybrid never a petrol engine at so there’s nothing to warn that the mighty mote

An NZ Ministry of Transport employee all electric cars should birdsong noises once underway.

Our brief taster of the i-car proved it could — at the right price. It like an ordinary car, it like one and it’s easy to use just switch on and go, or stop.

If you you can select eco from the gear to limit power to the motor, or to apply more aggressive braking on steep descents boosting battery power) and it.

Once it’s on sale will proliferate — as a visit to Seattle proved, stations will even pop up in car parks. The main problem be power generation, for running a car will lose its savour if stations burn fossil to cope with demand.

said, Mitsubishi says well to wheel, electric are five per cent more than petrol hybrids and 15 per more efficient than and boast a quarter the CO2 emissions of a engine.


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