|The in-wheel motor is a core element of Mitsubishi’s development direction. Click to enlarge.|
AutoWeek reports that Mitsubishi Motors plans to sell a small electric car in the United States. Speaking during a Mitsubishi dealer meeting last week, President Osamu Masuko said the lithium-ion battery-powered vehicle will be launched first in Japan. A hybrid version of the car also might be available.
In 2005, Mitsubishi announced that it would begin selling electric cars in Japan by 2010. Mitsubishi plans to build its EVs with in-wheel motors and lithium-ion batteries, both of which the company has been working on for several years. Mitsubishi forsees using the Mitsubishi In-wheel motor Electric Vehicle (MIEV) concept in hybrids and fuel-cell vehicles as well. (Earlier post.)
Mitsubishi is partnering with Tokyo Electric on developing an electric minicar (earlier post). In January, Mitsubishi introduced the Concept-CT MIEV—an in-wheel gasoline-electric series/parallel hybrid (earlier post) at the Detroit auto show.
The Concept-CT is electric-dominant, obtaining the majority of its drive torque via the electric in-wheel motors, which are powered by a 1.0-liter genset and Li-ion batteries in a conventional series-hybrid configuration. At constant speed, however, the Concept-CT can add engine-powered rear-wheel drive for extra driveability (the parallel-hybrid aspect).
“From an environmental standpoint, we believe the electric car is the way to go because it has zero emissions,” Masuko said here last week at a Mitsubishi dealer meeting. “Fuel cell technology is still off in the future. Diesels are big in Europe but not in Japan and the U.S.”
Masuko did not disclose timing or sales volume targets for the new EV. A detailed announcement about the car is expected shortly.
(A hat-tip to Patrick!)