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

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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.

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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.

Comments

daCascadian

Andy >"...the economic case for elec cars still doesn't add up here..."

partly because the manufacturing companies get such nice subsidies through tax codes etc

Vehicle manufacturing plants are strategic tools (think about it, where would you manufacture tanks, armoured personel carriers, trucks etc when you are ramping up for war ?); part of the national security infrastructure & recognized as such under legal & tax codes

Can you say "welfare" for the entrenched/traditional way ?

Wake up & quit ignoring the big "externalities" when you start "doing the numbers"

"The only barrier to a successfully sustainable planet is ignorance." - R. Buckminster Fuller

doggydogworld

Sid, your range and lifetime estimates are too pessimistic. The batteries would last 50-60k miles. That's life-of-car in Japan, where regulations pretty much force you to scrap your car after 5-6 years.

Jeff R

How come in this cost comparison going on no one is mentioning that electricity is so much cheaper than gas? Tesla, for example, is saying about 1 cent per mile to run their car. In terms of total cost of ownership, if you compare gas + oil+ repairs vs. electricity + (fewer) repairs, the cost of the battery might not have to drop too dramatically, just by about the amount it is likely to by the time this thing comes out. Total cost of ownership is a better comparison because with an electric you can just wrap more of that total cost into your car payment. Would I rather spend $300/mo on an electric car payment or $200/mo gas car payment + $100 a month in gas?

I'd take the electric for reliability (oh yeah, and that saving the planet thing.)

Plus I think it looks great. Seriously. Not Mini great, but better than a Mustang! :-)

MasterD

I think this car looks quite promising. It seems to me this is the first car (if it comes into production) that is quite "mainstream", by this I mean manufactured by a large carmaker who is capable of mass-production and not of any "exotic"-breed like the Tesla-sportscar. Here in Europe (and Japan), we are quite used to this type of car and I would love to have one for my daily commute. In fact, it just looks like the smart-forfour should have looked and seems only slightly smaller than the current Mitsubishi Colt. (http://www.mitsubishi.fr/models/berlines/colt3portes/)
I've driven a leased smart fortwo for about a year and never felt unsafe in it. They get reasonable crash-tests results also, compared to their size (JJ: I would rather crash a smart fortwo into a brick wall then a 1964 Mustang, and not only for the good looks of the Mustang!;-).
Good idea they use the single motor, this reduces production cost and eliminates the discussions about unsprung weight.
The article doesn't mention what type of Li-Ion battery is used by Mitsubishi? Do they also use thousands of AA-type Li-Ion cells like Tesla and other Li-Ion cars?
Isn't it possible to make large cells, like in Lead-acid batteries? It seems to me that production costs of let's 100 large cell's is significantly less than 6000 small cells.

antigravity

the Tesla uses 6000 small cells so if there is a problen with one you could replace it with little cost
but you are right it is possible to build larger cells
i hope this car goes on sale asap i have to buy a new car soon and i hope this is the last ICE i buy

SJC

You may be able to replace one or more bad cells, but now you have a bank of aged cells and you find yourself replacing often.

Burtt

Does anybody know what the recycle value or core value will be for a li-ion would be? I think that the lithium cost would be a large cost in production so at 60k miles the new pack would be less if you consider the core value.

SJC

If you had a $10,000 battery pack in your EV that went bad after a few years, I do not think that you would get much for it as a recyclable trade in. Think of how much your get for a car battery trade in. If the car battery costs you $75, they might give you $5 or just offer to take it off your hands in trade. It would be considered in the cost per mile, along with the electricity and the labor to replace the pack.

Thomas Pedersen

Wouldn't the scrap value of Li-Ion batteries be high, since they contain all the stuff to make new batteries. It's probably not as simple as scrap iron - just melt and use all over again, as if nothing happened (except contamination with alloy components)

Does anyone have any knowledge on this?

Patrick

This car will NOT sell in the USA. The Mitsubishi i (not the EV but the actual model they sell) is not designed to be a left hand drive vehicle and the steering column has space only for a right hand drive vehicle.

Mitsubishi would have to redesign the car to make it left hand drive compatible...and even then they probably wouldn't sell it in the US as an electric or gas powered vehicle since the gas powered vehicle only has a 660cc engine (the electric version seems like it will outperform the gasoline version in every aspect except for driving range).

66coronet

http://www.autoblog.com/2006/10/14/mitsubishi-wont-sell-an-electric-car-after-all/
Oct 14th 2006 Mitsubishi won't sell an electric car after all.
Mitsubishi's announcement last Monday at a dealer's convention in Las Vegas to bring an electric car to the U.S. market. But they lied. What said in Vegas, stays in Vegas.
CNNMoney's website that quotes Mitsubishi spokesman Dan Irvin in an email saying, "Please note that contrary to the Automotive News story of earlier this week, there is currently no plan to sell this car in the U.S."

DWF

Another RESEARCH vehicle?!? How about some PRODUCTION vehicles!!!

Mitsufan

Mitsubishi NEVER SAID it was bringing the electric i to the states. That was Automotive News pulling a story out of its collective...ear. The Mitsu release said nothing about the US market, just that testing had to be finished in Japan before anything else could be considered.
http://media.mitsubishi-motors.com/pressrelease/e/corporate/detail1533.html

Richard Easton

Mitsubishi, bring it, I'll buy it.

antigravity

if the batterys are dead dfter 50000miles you only have to change the batterys not the whole car but a well made battery pack should last at least 100000miles this would last most people about 4 years and in that time the cost of new batterys would have droped plus you new batterys would prob be lighter giving you better range and more speed

john galt

Modular, standards-based design would be great. Ala, pc motherboards and the like. Just plug in additional RAM, replace a hard drive, or video card, depending on the requirement. However, this type of versatility is not always the best business model. I doubt too many automakers will clamer to design a product that will cannabalize present and future sales by allowing customers to plug in various combinations of batteries, ice powerplants, etc. A cool concept, nonetheless. Despite all the gloomy, negative speak here, I'd wager if someone conducted a longitudinal analysis on the progress of EV development, basely soley on the information archived here by GCC, you would see significant gains in capability (e.g., charging options, range, acceleration, battery life). It seems we are on the verge of a breakthrough to a very feasible consumer product. I'd wager again, if a million consumers would commit a $5,000 deposit, an automaker would come forward and deliver a EV under $20,000 with a 100 mile range, highway capable acceleration and speed, and battery life guaranteed to 100,000 miles.

Johnny

Sure Electric cars are more expensive now but look at other electronics. If you wanted to replace your 3 year old computer with a equivalent well you couldn't because it was obsolete. You would have to buy a new one at half the price and 3 times the power.
Same thing for battery packs. Engines aren't going to change much just like keyboards and mouses just the battery. They will reduce in price significantly more then gasoline. They will be more efficient, cleaner and recyclable because it makes business and political sense.

Mitch

Hi,

Excerpt Below - Full article here

"A123Systems has developed a new generation of Lithium-ion batteries, that will deliver up to 10X longer life, 5X power gains and dramatically faster charge time compared to conventional Lithium technology, as validated by independent testing at Motorola and government research labs. They are delivering batteries to Black and Decker with unprecedented power, safety, and life as compared to previously used batteries. Their batteries use proprietary nanoscale electrode technology built on research at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and exclusively licensed from MIT. The initial family of batteries is targeted at applications such as power tools, advanced medical devices, hybrid electric vehicles, mobility products such as electric scooters, robotics, and consumer electronics..."


Tom

May I suggest you all look at http://www.altairnano.com/ and their nanosafe Li Ion battery, see Dr. Evan House's ZEV presentation. They will supply a real mid-size SUV with 10 ship sets of batteries by the end of 2006. These batteries should run for more then 12 years (12000 cycle testing of full discharge and recharge) and the SUV gets about 110 to 200 mile per charge and the batteries can be recharge in 10 minutes (assuming the charging unit can supply that rate). They had the car available for driving at the ZEV conference. I have not seen any cost as of yet, but a recharge of 10 minutes is unreal. In addition they have a 1937 Cabriolet reproduction and they are planning on a second sports utility truck (Phoenixmotorcars.com). The initial order for the batteries was $750000.
So if you don't want an egg, there are some really nice cars coming out.
Second thought, someone converted 2 BMW Mini cars to ALL electric wheel motors, just 160 Hp. per wheel. It does 0 to 100 in about 5 second (they say less then 5 seconds, but I don't think it was tested for that). Take a look at this site for the Mini, http://www.worldcarfans.com/news.cfm/newsID/2060724.006/page/1/country/ecf/lang/eng/mini/pml-builds-640hp-electric-mini
The best part about all of this is with fast charging and long lasting stored power, whether by chemical or charge, the future could be JUST electric with NO ATP supplied power.

Terry

Actually, I think it is CUTE!! :) Reminds me of the LightCycles in the movie TRON.

But then I also like the design of the SMART FOR-TWO (www.smartusa.com) design as well.

The car design I simply do not "get" is the (Toyota) Scion 'shoebox' which is very popular with todays youth. ? ? ? ?

Patrick Sibley

When can I buy an MiEV, this is the car we have been waiting forever for. Patrick Seattle Washington USA

Victoria Stanford

I like the www.theaircar.com.

kent beuchert

What a piece of crap this car will be. A more incomvenient and useless vehicle can hardly be imagined. When will those who want to build electric cars keep putting out garbage, usually (at $44,000 for the EV1) exorbitantly expensive vehicles that take too long to recharge to make trips possible and batteries that cost a small fortune. Li ion batteries suck. I predict that this product won't be any better than the EV1, a car that should NEVER have been put on the market.

kent beuchert

I love the way the spin doctors work. The reason Mit is not going for in-wheel motors is because of cost. It ain't got nothing to do with "desire to get the vehicle out there quickly for the deserving public."

Guy

Kent, have you seen Sony Pictures 2006 film "Who Killed the Electric Car?" GM did not sell the EV1, it leased the vehicle, then later cancelled the leases forcing customers to return the EV1s, despite the fact that a number of the same customers offered to purchase their EV1s after using them for many months. Once again, GM dropped the ball allowing Toyota and Honda to score the runs. My best guess: Electric vehicles will dominate in a decade.

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