Today marked the arrival of the first mass-produced electric cars in Australia. The two Mitsubishi i-MiEV electric vehicles landed into the Port of Brisbane to a warm welcome from the media and gave Mitsubishi the crown of the first manufacturer to bring a ready-to-sell electric car down under.
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The Queensland’s Minister for Climate Change and Sustainability, Kate Jones, and MMAL’s president and CEO, Robert McEniry were present to spell out the future of electric vehicles.

The i-MiEV has been on sale in Japan since July last year and will go on sale in Australia in the next few months. European versions start production on the next couple of months.

Mr McEniry said the future of cars is showcased in the i-MiEV, pointing out that even the likes of Porsche and Ferrari are embracing electric or hybrid vehicles and that the i-MiEV is not a gimmick but the first of the next generation of electric vehicles.

Some interesting facts about the i-MiEV is its 160km range per charge, which takes 7 hours on a normal household plug. Once the “fast-charge” infestracture is available here you can charge the car to 80% capacity in just 30 minutes. It can travel at up to 130km/h using three different modes: Drive, Eco and Brake.

The Mitsubishi i-MiEV has the ability to read the load on the power grid and only use power when the power grid usage is at its lowest (at night). Of course it can recharge anytime when required. Mr McEniry said the next generation of these vehicles will have the ability to even give back power to the grid when plugged in.

The Climate Change Minister said the QLD government is currently working on an electric vehicle policy which should be finalised by the end of the year, she also didn't rule out incentives to entice buyers but said she was more focused on getting the policy right first.

No Australian pricing was announced and we don't expect those details for another few months.

According to Ashley Sanders, Mitsubishi's project manager for i-miEV, the real constraint is the batteries with lithium being in short supply. Mitsubishi has signed a deal with West Australia company Lithium Australia to boost its lithium battery production.

The battery in the i-MiEVs is a 16 kilowatt hour. If you're unfamiliar with what a kilowatt hour is: a household heater rated at 1000 watts (1 kilowatt), left on for one hour uses one kilowatt hour (equivalent to 3,600 kilojoules) of energy.

Mr Sanders told CarAdvice that the i-MiEV and its battery will last at least 10 years if not more. The battery pack is separated into 22 modules each carrying four batteries and there has been no battery failure to date.

The car is powered by a single electric motor that drives the rear wheels. Power is put from the engine into a reduction gear and then through a differential. Mr Sanders said most first time drivers are surprised at its acceleration, as the Electric i-MiEV can accelerate faster than its petrol equivalent.

The fast-charge system currently used in Japan is a result of the Japanese manufacturers agreeing on one set of standards for charging electric vehicles and with charging stations being available in populated areas. Australia is still in the process of examining needs for electric vehicle standards.

Mr Sanders says he personally uses a 3kW solar array on his house which can produce 17kilowatt hours of energy per day that will easily recharge the i-MiEV from empty to full, meaning there is absolutely no emissions generated when the car is charged.

CarAdvice will bring you a full review and road test of the Mitsubishi i-MiEV before the end of the month.

We previously drove the pre-production prototype, read our Mitsubishi i-MieV review.

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