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TEPCO and Fuji Heavy Unveil EV Minicar Prototype; TEPCO to Use 3,000 by 2012

The electric R1e.

Nikkei. Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) and Fuji Heavy Industries, the maker of Subarus, today unveiled a prototype an electric vehicle that they have been developing together since last year. (Earlier post.)

TEPCO says that it will use 3,000 of these cars for business use by fiscal 2012.


The electric vehicle is based on Fuji Heavy’s Subaru R1 minicar and features a high-performance manganese lithium-ion battery developed with NEC Corp. (Earlier post.) It can run about 80km on a single charge with a top speed of 100 km/h (62 mph), according to the developers. A 346V battery pack powers the 40kW drive motor, and can recharge to 80% capacity in 15 minutes.

The manganese Li-ion cells use lithium manganese oxide spinel (LiMn2O4) as the cathode active material. The crystalline spinel structure makes the battery resistant to overcharging and provides high thermal stability, according to NEC/Tokin.

TEPCO will start testing 40 of these cars to evaluate such capabilities as recharge times and the distances they can travel without recharging. If these trials go well, it will replace 500 business-use vehicles with the new electric cars each year starting next fiscal year.

By fiscal 2012, Tepco will have switched 3,000 of its business-use vehicles, or almost 40% of the total, to the electric vehicles. Fuji Heavy hopes to put the vehicles into commercial production by as early as 2009.




Almost perfect...Just need to increase the range by about 30km, top speed by 8mph and seating capacity to 3 people (1 adult and 2 midgets) and it would serve me perfectly...now if only I had a place to charge up such a vehicle. Maybe my place of work would let me plug in during the day?


This is fine for 28 days of the week for me. I could keep my old beater for the other 2-3 days and still be much better off. Sign me up.


Did I say 28 days a week, I meant month of course.

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Max Reid

If they can supply an on-board generator to charge it up, it would be fine. If we go to a Church or friends place which is more than 80 km, then we can start the generator after reaching there and by the time, we come out, it will be fully charged.

Good vehicle, but it should come to market.


I want one! ... I wonder how much the battery weighs. Too bad the battery isn't more accessable, patrick could lug it upstairs at night. (and get a free workout) The top speed is ok, most of my driving is at 60Kph. I don't drive much beyond 30k. and most of my trips are only 5k.


In earlier posts on the R1e it was described as having a range of 120 km (70 miles). Still, that would satisfy many commuter's needs. The next question is battery life....


I seem to recall that they are claiming a 10yr 150,000 mile life for the battery check out


btw. I want one ... just not a pink one.

Sid Hoffman

The real question here is cost. If they were $10,000, I'd buy one right now. I only work around 8 miles (13km) from home, so even with A/C going the whole time, it's a piece of cake to go to work, grocery shopping, my girlfriend's house, etc. on one charge in a day. Unfortunately, this thing is probably around $60,000 or more. LiIon batteries are wicked expensive and probably make up 80% of the vehicle cost.



Man, where do you live? In hell? No churches for 80km?

An onboard generator doesn't sound terribly efficient, but to each his own, guess.

I think this car would totally rock as it would easily cover most commutes on a round trip basis.

The more I hear about all the so called liquid alternative to oil, the more I am convinced we need an electric or quasi electric future. Electric makes wind and solar more viable and vice versa.

Rafael Seidl

This car is certified for the Japanese market. You cannot just import it to the US. The safety regs etc. are different, plus the steering wheel is on the other side.

The 100kph is the top speed, but the 80km range is probably based on a lower average speed. Throw in some mild acceleration (thi is Japan, after all) and imperfect recuperation. I'm guesstimating an equivalent load might be ~2h of driving at ~50kph constnt speed, which in a vehicle this size would take ~5kW at the terminals.

That would put usable battery capacity at 10kWh, which is substantial even with MnLi-Ion chemistry. A fair amount of the cargo space of this subcompact car may have been by the battery.

For a a 15 minute recharge time at ~400V, you'd need to draw ~100 amps of current. That's a beefy cable.


I, on some days, have a 60 mile total commute (15 miles one way 4 times). Otherwise I'd only need a 15 mile range at the most.

I'm sure a modular setup could allow someone to reasonably remove the batteries (in multiple pieces) but it would still probably require 4-5 trips to and from the vehicle with the risk of dropping some components or someone lazily not putting them back securely (bad in the event of an accident).

Maybe I should just move out of the city to buy a house and create a 20 mile commute for myself so I get the chance to use a plug in type vehicle to save gassss...wait a minute!

Adrian Akau

Is there any possibility that GM or Ford might come up with a similar vehicle? Now is their chance to do so and I am hoping that they will make the effort.




Pretty funny. Keep up the good humor.

Sid Hoffman

Yeah it's not like this is the first EV. GM had the EV1, Toyota had the RAV4 EV, and Honda had the Honda EV. ALL of them were killed by the retardedly high purchase cost. You think people go apesh** over the $3000 premium for hybrids? What do you think they had to say about the $120,000 reported cost of a GM EV1 or the $70,000 or something that RAV4 EV's are going for on the used market even? Too much money. Too much!

Jay Stevens

Sounds good. But will it work in the US?

shaun mann

considering the extreme popularity of exceptionally tiny cars that cost $60,000, can't maintain highway cruising speed, and have to stop for 15 minutes every 50 miles, I think they are a perfect fit for the US.


I love the idea of battery vehicles, but this would be a bad joke in the US. the industry would have to work for a decade to get over the public image problem this would create.

I hope nobody tries to sell BEVs in the US until they are actually ready for the market. the technology doesn't need any more barriers to acceptance than it already has.

Tony Chilling

Frankly, after all this time and talk about A123, EESTOR, and secondary aluminium batteries, this car is underwhelming in size, range, and speed.
At this rate, NOT a single EV car will show up in any of the sequels of "Cars".... even if painted pink.


Its starting small. Bollore is putting a very similar thing, its BlueCar on streets in europe.
By the time those hit the market, the battery tech, engine tech and electronics in them is already outdated and user modifications, upgrades and new models will inevitably pop up
We will get the highway capable, 300+ mile range EVs. Its simply going to take some trials first


talking design estethics ; why do electric cars (almost) always have to be so butt ugly ??! It would help tremendously if these electrics would be nice to see as well. I'm 100% pro electric cars as the future solution to our transport problem, but please....do something about the design if you actually want to sell these things, ever..


Please stop that pricing crap!
Currently Li-ion for EVs goes for $ .7/Wh
That means 10kWh battery pack for 100.000miles ~ $7000 which is in turn still cheaper than overall ownership costs of ICE cars.

Don't count on the big manuf. starting producing EVs this just won't happen in the next 20years a lot of parts and barrels of oil to sell.

Go ahead with individual EV conversion, it's documented all over the web..


"why do electric cars (almost) always have to be so butt ugly" You have a strange definition for the word "ugly". AC Propulsion tZero http://www.acpropulsion.com/tzero_pages/tzero_home.htm Venturi Fetish http://www.venturi.fr/us/fetish/wallpapers/wallpapers.php3 Hybrid Technologies LiX http://www.hybridtechnologies.com/media.php?mediaID=060212 WrightSpeed X1 http://www.wrightspeed.com/x1.html Heck, even GM EV1 looked nice and whats wrong with Toyota RAV4 EV ?

john galt

Price was not the demise of the GM, Honda, and Toyota EV offerings. The late 90's early 00's EV demise was due mainly to the collaborative effort by the automakers, oil companies, and the fantasy hydrogen fuel cell camp to kill off the EV movement. Most of the EVs produced in response to the short lived California ZEV law have been sent to the car crusher. Although PG&E is still operating the RAV4 EV. Most of the EV drivers were not given the opportunity to purchase the EVs as they were only offered on a lease basis. Check out the newly released filem "Who Killed the Electric Car" for an entertaining and informative story about the subject.

Thomas Pedersen

In Finland many places of business have electrical outlets at each parking space to keep the engine warm during winter (very cold!). It seems to me that having an EV or PHEV would be an even greater incentive to install electrical outlets.

And yes, I'm sure it's possible to figure out a safe and easy way to pay for the power you use.

Hey, what a great way to utilize solar energy during daytime ;-)

Plug In America

The range and speed of this car would be almost identical to that of the Ford Th!nkCity that I leased, but with potentially fast charging. Cool! We chose the Th!nk because it was the only electric car we could afford at the time. It surprised us by how much it met our needs. I'd get one of these in a heartbeat.

Fears of the initial price are overblown. The only reason electric RAV4-EVs sell for $50,000-$65,000 on eBay now is because there are so few of them (the rest crushed by all the automakers) and because of pent-up DEMAND. The original cost to the few drivers who could buy the RAV4-EV (keep in mind this is a small SUV) was about $30,000 after government rebates, which will be available for any new EVs here again. Hey, I couldn't afford a computer or a cell phone when they first came out, but early adopters drove the price down. Same thing here.

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