Mitsubishi Innovative Electric Vehicle
by Noel Adams

Mitsubishi has been showing a number of electric cars at auto shows starting in Tokyo back in 2005, they didnít show the most recent iteration, the one that will be the production version, until the 2007 Frankfurt Auto show.

The i-MiEV is based on Mitsubishiís i line of micro-cars which are quite popular in Japan. The four door i-Miev is only 11ft 1inches, 4ft 10inches wide, and 5ft 3inches tall but feels much roomier inside.

The car is powered by a 330V 16KWh Li Ion battery pack from GS Yuasa Corporation which drives a 47KW Permanent magnet synchronous motor that produces 133 foot pounds of torque. This gives the i-MiEV a top speed of 80mph and a range of up to 100 miles in ideal conditions but more like 70 miles in normal day to day driving.

The car also comes with two charging ports, one will accept either 110V for a charge time of around 12 hrs, or 220V for a charge time of around 6 hours. The second port is for fast charging and can be connected to a 50KW charger that will bring the car from 0 to 80% in thirty minutes. The second charger was added to allow people such as apartment owners, who donít normally have access to a plug in their parking area, or who have to park on the street, be able to get a charge at charging stations set up at places like shopping centers and convenience stores.

Inside the car looks like a standard i-car but the gauges have very different meanings. The speedometer is a digital read-out in the center of the console which is dominated by a large analog dial that shows the direction of flow of electrons, moving to the right when charge is pulled from the batteries and moving to the left as the batteries charge via the regenerative braking system.

The drive selector is a standard gearshift that allows Park, Reverse, Neutral, Drive, Eco and Brake. In drive the full power of the batteries is available to give the car plenty of go off the line. In Eco (economy) the motor output is limited to about 45bhp reducing the current flow from the batteries and extending range. In Brake the regenerative braking system is dialed up to simulate engine braking.

Driving the i-MiEV is as simple as putting your foot on the brake, popping the shift into drive or economy, then pressing the accelerator. The car takes of with very smooth acceleration and is peppy enough to keep up with traffic even in down-town LA.

The biggest thing you notice about the car is how quite it is. There is no whine from the motor like you get with most electric vehicles, and even the noise from wind and tires on the road is minimal. The car also rides very comfortably on the bumpy roads around LA. The steering is light but precise.

The regenerative braking on the car is an absolute joy. Regen is integrated into the system by way of the accelerator not just the brake pedal. When you take your foot off the accelerator mild regen slows the car gradually, the same way you would expect a gas car to react. Pressing the brake pedal increases regenerative braking smoothly slowing the car.

When driving down a steep hill, the shift can be moved into brake mode and the carís speed will be held down just like if you had downshifted in a gas car. The main difference is that in the i-MiEV the recaptured energy is fed back into the batteries.

Mitsubishi recently delivered 4 i-MiEV to Southern California Edison who are putting the car thorough its paces in their fleet. The cars are also being fleet tested in Japan.

The i-MiEV isnít just a science project either. Mitsubishi plans on building around 2000 of them in 2009 for use in fleet applications in Japan. Word has it that Mitsubishi UK has also requested a portion of these vehicles, all of which will be right hand drive, for sale in the UK.

Mitsubishi have had a web site available at for UK residents to register interest in the i-MiEV and response has reportedly been very strong. The car is expected to go on sale to the general public in both the UK and Japan in 2010, and Mitsubishi are also considering sales in other EU countries.

The car was shown at the 2008 LA auto show, and Mitsubishi were evaluating response to the car as part of their decision on bringing the car to the US. I certainly hope that they do bring the car here because this is one of the best electric vehicles that I have driven and I am sure that if the price is reasonable that Mitsubishi could sell a lot of them.