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by Tim Beissmann

Mitsubishi Australia has no plans to introduce a cheaper and lower-range Mitsubishi i-MiEV electric car in the short term.

Mitsubishi Motors Corp. in Japan officially launched two new models of the all-electric i-MiEV, including an entry-level model that costs around two-thirds the price of the longer-range model.

The Mitsubishi i-MiEV M will have a range of 120km. It will be available for 2.6 million yen ($30,100) in Japan before government incentives.

The top-spec Mitsubishi i-MiEV G will have a range of 180km and will cost 3.8 million yen ($44,000) before incentives.

Mitsubishi Motors President, Osamu Masuko, explained at the launch of the new i-MiEV models that the price of batteries had more than halved in the past two years.

“Costs have really come down dramatically,” Mr Masuko said. “We will try to keep the price down even when the subsidies go away.”

Mitsubishi Motors Australia Limited is currently preparing to roll out the 2012 Mitsubishi i-MiEV, which will have a range of 160km and will be priced from $48,800 when it hits showrooms in August.

The introduction of the i-MiEV M effectively means that Japanese customers can now get two-thirds of the range for two-thirds of the price.

In Australia, the 120km range would be three-quarters of the range of our model. Therefore, if the price dropped by one quarter, the lower-range i-MiEV M could effectively be offered for $36,600.

Despite this, Mitsubishi Motors Australia’s Lenore Fletcher said there were no plans to introduce a lower-range i-MiEV locally.

Ms Fletcher said Mitsubishi had spent time investigating Australian attitudes to electric vehicles, and the findings suggested most Australian motorists felt more comfortable with longer range capabilities rather than shorter-range vehicles, regardless of potential price advantages.

She said Mitsubishi Australia’s strategy was to wait for battery technology to improve to the point where motorists did not have to sacrifice range to get an affordable EV.

Recent research has shown that 80 percent of Australians drive less than 80km per day, suggesting the i-MiEV M would still be a suitable vehicle for more than four out of every five Australians.

What do you think? Would you be more likely to purchase a $36,600 i-MiEV with a range of 120km, or a $48,800 i-MiEV with a range of 160km? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.




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