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by Matt Brogan

Mitsubishi has given Australia its first glimpse of a production-ready electric vehicle – the i MiEV – at the Melbourne International Motor Show this morning.

The i MiEV, which stands for Mitsubishi innovative Electric Vehicle, is set to become the world’s first truly viable zero drive-time emission city commuter in volume production when it is released in Japan later this year.

“This is the first time a production-ready electric vehicle has ever featured at an Australian motor show,” said Mitsubishi’s president and chief executive officer, Robert McEniry. “Hybrid and alternative fuel vehicles are becoming increasingly common in this current environmentally conscious climate, but Australia hasn’t seen anything like the i MiEV before.”

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International interest in the vehicle has been considerable. Currently, the i MiEV is undergoing feasibility studies in several countries around the world, including the United States, Europe, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Iceland, Canada, and as recently announced, now in Australia.

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Mitsubishi will commence a nation-wide feasibility test following the i MiEV’s public introduction centre stage in Melbourne.

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Utilising a large-capacity lithium-ion battery system and a compact, high-output electric motor in place of a traditional petrol power train (based on Japanese and European trial figures) the i MiEV has some impressive technical specifications for a zero drive-time emissions vehicle.

Producing a remarkable 47kW of power and 180Nm of instant torque, the i MiEV’s permanent magnet synchronous engine is supported by a revolutionary lithium-ion battery.

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These high-capacity batteries are maintenance free and have a lifespan of around 10 years or 150,000 km.

The i MiEV’s electric motor is smaller, produces more torque at low revolutions and is quieter than a turbocharged gasoline engine. Most importantly, the i MiEV’s engine is cleaner, producing zero drive-time CO2 emissions.

With total voltage measuring 330V, and total energy output at 16kWh, the compact battery and motor reside under the seating and in the back of the vehicle, allowing seating capacity for four individuals and good size luggage compartment in the rear of the vehicle. In a small car, this maximisation of space is made possible by the i MiEV’s smart design and long wheelbase of 2550mm.

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Requiring seven hours from a normal domestic household power supply for a full battery charge, the i MiEV should ideally be left to recharge overnight, making it perfect for daily commuting over common distances in a city landscape.

Able to reach a top speed of 130 km/h, with a range of around 140-160 kilometres (Japanese test figures) from a single charge, the i MiEV is a rear-wheel drive vehicle with three ‘speeds’: Drive, Eco and Brake.

Drive is the full power mode where the car drives under normal mode. Economic or ‘Eco’ mode allows the power to drop out automatically to extend the i MiEV’s cruising range and fuel efficiency. Brake mode offers high regenerative braking that absorbs as much kinetic energy as possible – restoring power to the battery – and is perfect for downhill driving.

Compared to a similar sized petrol car, the running costs per kilometre are around 33% lower. If charged during off-peak or night time hours the operating costs will be even less.

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The i MiEV, with its groundbreaking technology, will tour Melbourne, Canberra, Sydney and Adelaide  in a motorcade of public demonstrations, specialist briefings and individual drive experiences for key government officials, fleet managers, environmental opinion leaders and the media.

Later in the year, Mitsubishi plans to build on the initial exposure program with a diverse range of longer-term trials of the i MiEV in government and private fleets across the nation.

Through this i MiEV program, MMAL will receive feedback from key stakeholders regarding the  viability of this cutting-edge technology and, in doing so, lay the foundations for the possible sale of the vehicle in the Australian market.

“Mitsubishi has made huge investments in research and developmental; we are striving to enhance our sustainability initatives, and the i MiEV is a clear demonstration of these principles combined,” said MMAL Vice President of Brand and Marketing, Paul Unerkov. “And everyone at Mitsubishi is excited about this vehicle.  We can’t wait to see the public reaction from the i MiEV’s appearance in Melbourne, and to see the results of our extensive feasibility studies following the motor show”.






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