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Mitsubishi Accelerates Electric Vehicle Work, Announces New Research Vehicle and Testing Partners

12 October 2006

I_miev_3_l
The components of the i MiEV powertrain. Click to enlarge.

Mitsubishi Motors (MMC) has unveiled a new, single-motor research electric car based on its i minicar. The new Mitsubishi innovative Electric Vehicle (i MiEV) will be used for joint research programs with Japanese power companies beginning this year, and in fleet tests in 2007. Mitsubishi had earlier planned to begin selling electric cars in Japan in 2010. (Earlier post.)

The power companies will conduct field tests, gather data and evaluate the commercial viability of the vehicle. MMC will provide power companies with EVs and analyse field test data collected by them.

The label “MiEV” now encompasses all of MMC’s electric drive systems work, including lithium-ion batteries, in-wheel motors and other technologies related to EV, hybrid-electric vehicle and fuel-cell vehicles. The broader MiEV concept is based on MMC’s former concept Mitsubishi In-wheel motor Electric Vehicle (MIEV), referring to a lithium-ion battery/in-wheel motor-driven vehicle. MMC continues to develop its in-wheel motor technology.

Mitsubishi decided to priotiritze development of the single-motor configuration because it can be developed more quickly and at a lower cost than its in-wheel-motor configurations—and therefore accelerate market introduction.

I_miev_1_ll
The i MiEV

The new i-MiEV is powered by a compact 47 kW motor that develops 180 Nm (133 lb-ft) of torque and a 330V, 16 kWh or 20 kWh lithium-ion battery pack. Top speed is 130 kph (81 mph), with a range of up to 130 km (81 miles) for the 16 kWh pack or 160 km (99 miles) for the 20 kWh pack. The motor is coupled to a reduction gear and differential to drive both rear wheels.

Charge time (80% capacity) with a 15-amp/200-volt on-board charger is 5 hours and 7 hours for each of the packs. Use of a 15-amp/100-volt charger increases the time to 11 hours and 13 hours respectively. A 3-phase, 50kW/200V quick charger drops that to 20 minutes and 25 minutes respectively.

MMC will display i MiEV at the 22nd International Battery, Hybrid and Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle Symposium & Exposition (EVS-22) at Pacifico Yokohama in Yokohama 23 - 28 October 2006.

MMC will begin joint research with Tokyo Electric Power Company, and The Chugoku Electric Power Co. in November 2006 and with Kyushu Electric Power Co. in January 2007. MMC will provide each power company with i MiEVs. By testing i MiEV, the power companies will evaluate how the vehicle is applied to their business and how fast-charge infrastructure may be developed for EVs.

In the autumn of 2007, MMC will begin fleet testing in order to verify the vehicle’s technical capabilities in daily use and to evaluate the commercial acceptance in collaboration with the power companies above along with the Kansai Electric Power and Hokuriku Electric Power Company.

October 12, 2006 in Electric (Battery), Japan | Permalink | Comments (76) | TrackBack (0)

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Comments

I'm glad they saw the light about not using in-wheel motors. Until motor mass can be brought down, unsprung weight will be a problem for in-wheel EV's.

Mechanically nice and simple isn't it? Seats 4, Good speed, usefull range, Reasonable recharge time. Now the question is how much do they estimate that it will cost in mass production? Is this the breakout from a major car manufacturer that we've all been waiting for?

Why is it when ever a vehicle like this is developed its gotta look like an egg on steriods. I know there will be people that'll say "EEeeuuuww, I wouldn't be caught dead in one of those ugly things". Next thing you know a young family will buy one and they'll over load it with 5 or 6 kids and then a big SUV will run over them killing all the kids and the parents too and it'll be the Hindenberg all over again -- electric vehicles will be set back 20 years. We got the Telsa Supercar (big power, big speed, big price) and then we got this egg beater thing -- I just wish this first one could be more mainstream, full of all the appropriate air bags and safety features, a modest range and modest price -- something that a small family could afford and love -- something that would catch on and become an Icon -- remember the first Mustang -- something like that!!!

This is very good news, I really hope they can make it work. We've been waiting a long time for anything EV, really.

JJ, you mean a plug-in Prius, right?

fyi CO2 -- No, I was comparing and contrasting two EV's 1) The Telsa and 2) This Egg Beater Thing. PHEV's are in a class all by themselves (except now that you mention it the Prius does kinda look like an egg beater on steriods -- there, that outta wake up and shake up the comments section on GCC -- I'm predicting a record number of comments -- let's see if we can exceed 100!!)

Flames for JJ! Heresy! :) (I actually like the look of the Prius)

Cars that look like the i MiEV are ten-a-penny in Europe and Japan. It makes sense for Mitsubishi to make a vehicle that its home market is comfortable with.

Its just Yanks that don't "get" them.

Andy

What they need is a modular "recharging" system (Motor + fuel tank). You could replace 1 seat with this or a sizable proportion of the boot. If you used diesel, you wouldn't have such a fire problem as with gasoline.
They you could have a 5 seater with short range, or optionally, a 4 seater with 3-500 mile range.
Most people would never buy (and less still use) the range extender, but it might make more people buy it, and the people who bought it could always go on long runs with it, or buy it later when they needed it.
Most people would probably have a 2nd car for long runs, and use this for shorter ones, but the modular charger would give the appearance of a long range electric car.

JJ:

The USA version will use a Dodge RAM 2500 with all it beauty and hugeness + a 2-ton trailer for the batteries to take the kids to school.

What's Li-Ion cost these days? $500 per kw/h in bulk? That would put the 16kw/h battery at $8000. Since it states a range of 81 miles and most folks will need to either use heat or A/C for some significant percentage of the year, we'll just say that this battery is enough for 40 miles a day with light climate control use but that it will result in a significant cycle of the battery.

Most Li-Ion is rated around 1000 cycles, although to be honest, they drop off so the useful range may be half as much by 1000 cycles. Still, we'll blissfully pretend otherwise and look at it doing 40 miles per charge anyway. That's 40,000 miles per battery pack or a cost of about 20 cents per mile for the pack alone. That's a little pricy by any standard.

Honda used the theory that people would flock to the familiar and the safe -- like the Civic and the Accord, when they built their hybrids. Toyota took the completely wrong approach and built a car no one could love, except for the fact that they crushed Honda in sales.

Maybe this is an egg on steroids, but I don't get the egg beater reference.

Sid Hoffman -- What's L-Ion cost these days? $500 per kw/h in bulk?? -- Good point/post and well said. I guess the real question then is: In a perfect world where there are millions of cars running around with the perfect battery in them (what ever the perfect battery turns out to be -- quick charging/safe/long lasting/high energy density) what will be the bottom line cost of those batteries produced in bulk with all the associated economies of scale already figured out and built into the vehicle. Just what will that cost be?? $______.00 per kw/h??

BTW -- The Prius does look like an elongated egg beater and so do the people who drive em -- the Telsa, now that's a looker/head turner for sure!! (I'm shooting for +100 posts just to see if GCC can handle triple digits!!)

Another idea is that they build a fuel tank into the system as part of the basic design and you just add the motor as required. This way you could have a proper filler cap and proper safety at the cost of some space below the floor.
Then it would be a piece of cake to add the charging engine.
At present battery technology levels, it seems a hybrid is the best solution. The question is whether it is principally petrol or electric. If you have a charging engine, you can reduce the battery size by at least 1/2 with considerable savings in money, space and weight.
If you make the machine a little taller, you would have loads of space for a fuel tank and a charging ICE.

Man this is cool! I want one!

The lithium-ion maintanence fee to replace all the engine oil, oil seal, oil filter, blah blah blah for a maintenance free electrical engine.

So lets say you are using semi synthetic engine oil, okay, its like 30 bucks(how much?) per bottle for every 5000 miles. So, according to JJ, in an estimated lifetime of the lithium ion battery of 40,000 miles, we would also saved:

(i am not too sure about the market price of US)
240 bucks for engine oil
300 bucks for an engine overhaul(after 40k miles)
100 bucks for any spare parts related to engine oil
Plus the trouble free benefit(no need to visit workshop)

okay i admit that this is not a big deal of money compare to 8,000 bucks per battery pack. But this is to be considered into the bill.

JJ,
In Europe and Japan, the streets are narrow and parking spots small by US standard. This kind of shape is needed to maximize internal space with minimum footprint AND minimum aerodynamic drag. EV's requires more internal space for the battery pack, thereby raising the height of the vehicle, thus a more bulky appearance. This is a quite an attractive styling considering all the above. The Tesla is designed for emotional appeal but internal space and seating are severely limited in comparison this vehicle. If you live in Japan and have parking space for one car where you live, this car, or better yet, its PHEV version, would be the one to buy. Forget about a Tesla, unless you are a bachelor living a swingin' single's lifestyle.

If you are into Green Vehicles, get used to it!

Oh yes, as they are still studying the feasibility of it. It is not perfect. Even our current vehicles are imperfect as well, being inconvinience enough to visit the gas pump almost daily. But people has get used to it.

Its time to get used to an EV.

This independent report details how much it costs to make a standard (small) LiIon battery.

http://www.transportation.anl.gov/pdfs/TA/149.pdf

Back in 2000 it cost ~$1.70 to make a single 8 Wh battery (page 34), so that's $210 per kWh battery costs (manufacturing). That was 6 years ago, could be cheaper by now.

The 16 kWh battery in the Mitsubishi could therefore cost as little as $3400 to manufacture. That's not far off the same amount saved from not having engine, radiator, accessories, exhaust, catalytic converter etc etc. So overall price premium could be smaller, maybe $1,500.

The Mitsubishi LiIon is also meant to be a particularly long lasting type, developed for EVs and hybrids. Assuming 100k miles, the pack cost emerges at 3.4 cents per mile, less if you discount the savings from not having ICE costs.

I'm torn between the fact that I'm glad that an EV is in the works and the styling of the little thing. I don't understand why anything green must look so bad! afterall, the most popularly sold cars don't look like that, and that's because people don't like cars that look like that, they like cars that look like the popularly sold cars! I also think that a recharge time of 25 minute is very respectable. In fact, it's even workable for long distance trips. You just must make time for the recharge. You could go to lunch, or take a quick nap! The infrastructure is there, and that would put a serious halt on this stupid hydrogen pipe dream.

There is a perfectly logical reason for the ubiquitous "egg beater" design. The embryonic state of EV evolution. Which means, don't count your egg beaters, before they hatch...back.

For reference, here is a picture of an egg beater:

http://www.chefscatalog.com/images/catalog/product/20397_med.jpg

I don't see any resemblance to any of these cars.

Clett, the saving of not having a mass produced IC engine, rad, exhaust, ancillaries, etc, will just about pay for a current tech power control unit + electric motor.

So the batteries would still be a premium.

Current tech elec cars are always charged at a premium.

You have to ask yourself why that is. I seriously doubt its because elec car co's are ripping people off. Its because manufacturing costs are higher.

Face it people, the cost basis for elec cars just does not add up yet. Increase in gas prices (in the USA) will not make a difference either. Gas prices in Europe hover at $6/gallon and yet the economic case for elec cars still doesn't add up here. There is no reason to think the states is any different.

Andy

Looks promising. I wouldn't mind one with a 250cc internal recharger for longer journeys.

As for battery costs,
http://www.greencarcongress.com/2006/09/afs_trinity_fil.html
gives $200-300/KWhr, if super caps are used as well.

As for the egg shape, this is pretty popular in Europe, e.g Ford Focus, Mercedes A class, and lots more. You get much better space utilisation, pretty good safety. Not so good on motorways, but ideal for a second car.

Clett had a great graph on his website that I saw awhile back. It shows the declining cost of lithium ion. It may not make economic sense today, but with a strong downward push each year it can make sense in the not too distant future.

Mitsubishi also isn't releasing this car for mass production this year. It sounds to me like they are prototyping and giving to utilities to look at how you'd upgrade for fast charging. By the time this thing is hitting dealers in volume it could be 2010 or 2012 at least. And 4-6 years is a big difference in the cost and ability of the batteries.

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