While the electric car market is starting to become slightly crowded, with many of the major car manufacturers introducing electric vehicles for the future, many believe that the Mitsubishi i MiEV Electric Car could perhaps be a step up to the next level from the current array of vehicles available. When you consider that Mitsubishi, like other leading car manufacturers, has an excellent reputation in the mass market and seems able to read consumer demand well in advance it will be interesting to see whether the high hopes for the Mitsubishi i MiEV Electric Car are indeed crystallised.
The history of the Mitsubishi i MiEV Electric Car
The term Mitsubishi i MiEV Electric Car is fairly distinctive although the MiEV abbreviation stands for Mitsubishi in-wheel motor Electric Vehicle. This is a vehicle which was first introduced in a different format known as the Mitsubishi Colt EV at the Tokyo motor show in 2005. It used lithium ion batteries to power electric motors which were located in the wheels of the vehicle and was to all intents and purposes, Mitsubishi's first real venture into the electric car market. However, after the launch of the Mitsubishi Colt EV there was still much work to be done to create the very popular and very well received Mitsubishi i MiEV Electric Car.
While these two particular branded vehicles have taken the headlines with regards to Mitsubishi, we can trace the company’s hunger for success in the electric vehicle market back to as far as the 1970s. Indeed the company built a number of electric vehicles in the 1990s although this sector was very much out of favour and very much under a cloud. One factor which many people fail to recognise is that back in 1999 the company created an electric vehicle which covered over 2140 km in a 24-hour period. This is still a record for the furthest distance achieved by an electric vehicle in just 24 hours.
What can you expect from a Mitsubishi i MiEV Electric Car?
Under the headlines it is interesting to see that the Mitsubishi i MiEV Electric Car is still able to deliver everything it promises. Before we go into the details of the specification for the Mitsubishi i MiEV Electric Car it is worth noting that the vehicle:-
Batteries can cost as little as £135 to charge per 12,000 miles
Has only four major working parts as opposed to 300 on a typical combustion engine therefore servicing is significantly cheaper and quicker
The vehicle is exempt from road tax
The vehicle is exempt from the London congestion charge
Free parking is available in some boroughs of London
The batteries have a five-year warranty
The vehicle carries a three-year warranty
These are just a number of bullet points which potential buyers need to be aware of although the underlying specifications, technology and groundbreaking systems of the Mitsubishi i MiEV Electric Car are slightly more complicated.
Specifications of the Mitsubishi i MiEV Electric Car
There are many different areas to take into account when looking at specific specifications for the Mitsubishi i MiEV Electric Car which include the following.
Despite the fact that Mitsubishi made much publicity on the back of its in-wheel motors the actual production model of the Mitsubishi i MiEV Electric Car does not take into account this technology. Instead the vehicle has a single permanent magnet motor placed on the rear axle which offers 40 kW of power output although the company was forced to put in a transmission between the motor and wheels. It is interesting to see that companies such as Mitsubishi are more than willing to ditch older technology as and when new systems and new technology is discovered.
Despite the various technologies now available in the electric car market it is interesting to see that currently, due to the restrictions of battery power, the maximum range for electric vehicles today such as the Mitsubishi i MiEV Electric Car still hovers around the 160 km level. However, there has been some increase in the maximum speed available with the Mitsubishi i MiEV Electric Car which is able to hit around 80 mph using the 16 kW lithium ion battery pack placed under the vehicle.
Over the last few months we have seen a massive increase in the number of safety aspects which need to be tested for electric vehicles in Europe and around the world and, thankfully, the Mitsubishi i MiEV Electric Car has passed all of these tests with credit. The vehicle received a four-star rating from European safety regulators with confirmation that zero emission vehicles do not need to compromise safety whatsoever regarding their passengers. The vehicle has also received similar regulatory clearance around the world which shows the benefits of years of development by Mitsubishi.
There have been issues regarding the vast number of batteries required to power electric vehicles today and how these would react in a standard crash test although thankfully there have been no problems whatsoever.
Cost of a Mitsubishi i MiEV Electric Car
The cost of the Mitsubishi i MiEV Electric Car has unfortunately suffered from the fall in the value of the UK pound to the YEN and the sale price for a Mitsubishi i MiEV Electric Car has now been set at £38,699. However, when you also take into account the UK government's offer of a £5000 discount for those becoming involved in electric vehicles/environmentally friendly vehicles then the cost does reduced to £33,699.
On the surface this may appear to be particularly expensive compared to other smaller potentially more economic and efficient vehicles but the truth is that the Mitsubishi i MiEV Electric Car is targeted at a very different market which expects a specific vehicle to do specific tasks. The name of Mitsubishi is forever associated with larger perhaps four wheel vehicles at the higher end of the cost spectrum.
Development of the Mitsubishi i MiEV Electric Car
While many companies have pushed hard to bring electric vehicles to the market and then taken a massive sigh of relief once this has happened there is no doubt that Mitsubishi has been one of the more proactive companies in this particular area. It is interesting to see the recent flurry of electric vehicles from Mitsubishi which include:
- Mitsubishi Colt EV (2005)
This particular vehicle was introduced in 2005 and not surprisingly, it was based upon the original Mitsubishi Colt and was to all intents and purposes the first mass produced electric vehicle offered by Mitsubishi. The vehicle has a top speed of 93 mph and a range of 150 km which was certainly competitive at the time and remains competitive today.
- Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution MIEV (2005)
The Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution MIEV is one of the larger electric vehicles produced by Mitsubishi and has taken part in a number of electric vehicle rallies. This particular model is capable of hitting 110 mph with a range of up to 250 km which is very impressive for a sedan type vehicle.
- Mitsubishi Concept-CT MIEV (2006)
The Mitsubishi Concept-CT MIEV was to all intents and purposes the first rear powered vehicle introduced to the Mitsubishi Electric portfolio and was first introduced to the marketplace at the North American International Auto Show in 2006. Historically, we will look back upon this particular vehicle as a potentially momentous change towards rear powered electric vehicles.
- Mitsubishi Concept-EZ MIEV (2006)
The Mitsubishi Concept-EZ MIEV is a concept vehicle which offers significantly more in the space than previous Mitsubishi Electric cars due to the fact that the wheels are placed as near to the corners of the car as possible with their own motor attached. This allows the floor of the vehicle to be lowered which has given surprisingly high space within the vehicle compared to the outside dimensions.
- Mitsubishi i MiEV Electric Car (2006)
Despite the fact that the production model for the Mitsubishi i MiEV Electric Car was introduced to the marketplace in 2009, the concept car for this particular range came about in 2006. While there were very few actual changes to the cars journey range and maximum speed we did see the withdrawal of the individual motor in favour of a larger motor placed on the back axle. There is speculation that the vehicle, or the specifications within the vehicle, could be used with other cars in the future including the Peugeot iOn and the Citroen C-ZERO which are due to be released into Europe from 2011 onwards.
- Mitsubishi i MiEV Sport Electric Car (2007)
As seems to be the norm at the moment each electric car company has to have some kind of attraction for sports car enthusiasts and 2007 saw the unveiling of the Mitsubishi i MiEV Sport Electric Car. The in-wheel technology present in the prototype for the Mitsubishi i MiEV Electric Car has made a return to the Mitsubishi i MiEV Sport Electric Car while a single motor still powers the back axle. The inner comfort of the Mitsubishi i MiEV Sport Electric Car is very different to that of the Mitsubishi i MiEV Electric Car though this is still a zero emission vehicle and created around the fundamental technology present in all Mitsubishi Electric cars.
This is just a quick run through the development phases of various Mitsubishi Electric vehicles, and while the vast majority are not yet available to the mass market, it has given experts a look into the future and the potential new releases we can expect in the months and years ahead. One thing which is very clear in the Mitsubishi Electric vehicle portfolio is the fact that the company continues to work very hard on both the technology, the design of the vehicles and the battery power required to push them to the limit. Many believe it is the battery limitations which are causing problems at the moment and limiting the maximum journey range and maximum speeds.
What can we expect in the future?
Mitsubishi is just one of a variety of new and exciting entrants to the electric vehicle market that are looking to corner particular niche areas and also attack the main market. While many would suggest that a company such as Mitsubishi is taking a risk by entering a new market which is in its relevant infancy, in reality the company has very little choice. The wave of consumer demand for electric vehicles continues to grow, despite pessimistic reports that demand will fall in 2011 because of the worldwide economic situation and companies such as Mitsubishi need to be one of the first to show their head above the parapet.
The beauty for companies such as Mitsubishi is the very fact that they have decades of experience, access to the latest technology, a trust factor with the public, which fewer other vehicle manufacturers could ever hope for and a history which shows that they are willing to move with the times. During the 1990s when Mitsubishi created a number of its very own prototype electric vehicles there was little demand in the mass market and therefore little chance of an investment return. However, things have changed over the last decade and the potential return on investment within the electric vehicle market has improved dramatically.
Despite the fact that Mitsubishi has a very traditional image and a specific customer base within the worldwide traditional vehicle market, this is a company which has been willing and able to move with the times. The introduction of the Mitsubishi i MiEV Electric Car is a major step forward in this particular battle to put a major foothold in the electric vehicle market and the vehicle itself has received numerous awards and pleasing reviews.
As ever, as we have mentioned on numerous occasions, the current financial assistance offered by many governments around the world has and will continue to play a major role in the creation of consumer demand for such vehicles. However, as and when this financial assistance finally runs out it will be companies such as Mitsubishi and the Mitsubishi i MiEV Electric Car which are able to stand alone and attract new custom on their very own merits.