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Report: Mitsubishi to Sell Electric Vehicle in US

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!)


Sid Hoffman

I hate it when a car company says electric has "zero emissions" since that's of course totally false. There are TONS of emissions in vehicle production and manufacturing not to mention tons of emissions from electricity production to charge the vehicle. They shouldn't be allowed to say zero emissions. Maybe zero tailpipe emissions from the car itself, but they are far from zero emissions.


I think "zero emissions" is a relative term... besides, electricity from power plants is still much cleaner than an ICE... and who's to stop you from setting up a solar generator? not that there aren't emissions produced from the manufacture of the car, the solar panel, your computer, your body, and everything else... just tired of hearing a bunch of negativity whenever anyone is makes a step forward... and this IS a step forward. Now if it would only be affordable....

Greg Woulf

The car does have zero emissions at sale.

Production is necessary, if you want a world without any production of anything then I think you'll have to wait until civilization collapses.

By what you're saying a bycicle would have emissions because of the production. By what you're saying someone walking causes emissions, because the clothes they're wearing were produced and that clothing production caused pollution.

Electricity for this vehicle can come from solar, wind or any other pure source and saying that the car is not zero emissions because it's possible to obtain electricity from polluting sources is just wrong.

If you want pure sources of electricity then do what thousands are already doing and go solar/wind. Because it can be abused doesn't mean that it's at fault, or the cause.


By that definition making a box of corn flakes pollutes. But people need food and hence our existence pollutes. I guess you can not have everything the way ya want it all the time...


Who here actually thinks that people will, in large numbers, plug their electric vehicles into carbon-neutral electricity on their own?


Everyone was waiting for a major auto manufacturer to step up to the plate and produce an all-electric since GM killed off the EV1.

Here we have it. Hopefully Mitsubishi is still strong enough to pull it off because I'd like to see BEV vs FCEV and find out which one "wins". At the very least this electric vehicle should have the same market size as their niche vehicle the "Lancer Evolution".



If it is someone who buys an electric vehicle for mostly environmental reasons I bet, if they have the choice, they will. By "have the choice" I don't mean they will erect their own wind generator or go throw down $50,000 on the installation of PVs at the same time but if their power company offers the sale of wind generated electricity specifically (or other sources). I always sign up for these programs even though it usually costs me a couple cents more per kw-hr (in Texas it was the difference between paying $0.08 per kwhr for power or paying $0.10 per kwhr from wind bought in blocks of 100kw-hrs circa 2000)

Rafael Seidl

Sid -

when carmakers refer to zero emissions, they mean zero tailpipe emissions because those are the only ones that are being regulated. It's not yet clear if California will win the pending lawsuit about adding CO2 to the list of restricted compounds - most likely, that would refer to tailpipe emissions also.

The European carmakers' association ACEA has made a voluntary commitment to reduce fleet average CO2 emissions to 140 g/km by MY2008. If they are perceived to have missed this target, the EU commission is likely to push for a mandatory limit of just 120 g/km by MY 2012 and 90 g/km by MY2020. Again, these numbers refer to tailpipe emissions.

The present regulatory framework for vehicle emissions regulation does not account for the environmental damage caused by vehicle manufacturing nor for that caused by fuel production. The CO2 sinks inherent in biofuel manufacturing are also ignored. Clearly, this is conceptually inadequate and will become more so as carmakers are pushed into hydrogen-powered and/or battery electric vehicles.

One technology-neutral approach is to tax every actor in the chain based on the environmental damage he/she causes while simultaneously cutting taxes based on wealth creation. The idea is to tax asset degradation rather than income, but to do so in a way that is revenue-neutral and doesn't upset the balance between rich and poor (if you want to do that, please address it in a separate measure).

In practical terms, drivers would indeed be charged for any CO2 emitted by their vehicles' tailpipes via prices at the pump and/or vehicle license fees based on official fuel economy estimates. If they fill up on electricity instead, the utility would charge them for the CO2 emitted in its production, in order to cover its own carbon tax bill. Same for oil refiners and hydrogen producers.

One important aspect is how CO2 emissions would be weighted against other forms of environmental damage, such as the production of radioactive waste, land use, reduced property values (wind farms) etc. Choosing too narrow a scope for carbon taxes could have negative side effects.

Note that biofuel feedstocks are not permanent CO2 sinks, they merely recycle CO2 already in the atmosphere. Therefore, the tax levied on biofuels should be low or zero, making them competitive with those derived from fossil sources. Especially in Europe and Japan, this would imply a significant loss of revenue for the taxman from the transportation sector. Compensating income would be derived from refineries and utilities, via carbon taxes and/or tariffs. Certain public expenditures (e.g. protection of crude oil transports) could eventually be scaled back.

All this is subtly different from biofuel produced by passing the flue gases of a coal- or gas-fired power station of bioreactors filled with algae. That setup would directly increase the operator's revenue per unit of "fresh" CO2 emitted.

Ron Fischer

I agree with Patrick, Larry, but would say it this way: among people willing to pay a premium for a BEV there is much greater awareness of 'green power'. That self-selected group will be more likely to use low-carbon power. That said, the issue of pollution emitted during power generation is certainly also important.

Relevant to the other posts here the problem continues to be (even in the face of almost a decade of Republican leadership) the continued lack of market costs for pollution. The purchase price of a vehicle (or any goods) should include the cost of mitigating or avoiding the pollution generated during its production.

This should be a simple, but it's been hotly and effectively resisted.

As regards the myriad costs of pollution, our free market is a failure, fortunately one that would not really be hard to fix with adequete political will. Ah yes...


Mitsubishi should be applauded. It seems that some people are just never satisfied though. My electric provider has a renewable plan with 100% wind and there are several competitors with renewable electric plans as well.



Stop crying about what the current leadership at the federal level is or is not doing to make our environment clearer. It’s a heck of a lot cleaner than it was in the past. If you want to affect policy then run for office or spend your own money to make a difference. Why do you think so much money is being spent in USA and across the world on Bio-Fuels? The public can already buy renewable energy and EV cars if they want to pay the extra cost now. Someone (maybe Mitsubishi) will mass produce EV cars, but these things take time.

Lou Grinzo

I've been saying for some time over on The Cost of Energy ( that Mitsubishi was an excellent candidate for taking the EV leap in the US. They're getting hammered in the US market and they're an enormous company with the resources to engineer something like this and get it right.

The only question was which mainstream company would be desperate enough to embrace this disruptive technology first in the US. Looks like it will be Mitsu, unless things get truly ugly for Ford or GM, or Chrysler starts bringing Chinese EV's here as part of their pending deal.


Larry, just to add that I also have "green" power through Pasadena Power and Water and I would be using that if I could afford a descent EV. Its only a few dollars extra a month. With California's new GHG policies this will be the norm eventually.


Which will the average consumer embrace more? The I need to be able to fill up in 5 minutes hydrogen FCV crowd or the I can fill up for pennies on the mile BEV crowd?


I wish them well.


In wheel motors should make ABS, traction and stability control more precise. I like the series hybrid 1 liter genset option. You can buy it with or without, depending on your needs. The weight of the transmission and drive train are not part of what you are carrying around town.

John W.

Hopefully you could just "lift out" the genset for the around town rides. But I'd imagine you'd have to be pretty strong with a one liter engine: probably a couple hundred pounds anyways? Probably not feasible for the average guy, but ingenuitive people could probably make it work.

John W.

Is "ingenuitive" even a word?


Hopefully it can come to Canada too... We missed out completely on the last round of EVs.


Well, the 4G92 MIVEC DOHC 1.6L mitsubishi engine is around 250lbs with manifolds and accessories. I'd imagine a 1.0L version would probably be 200lbs at the least unless it is a 3 cylinder motor. You'd have to deal with the cooling system as well when you pull it but if you were adamant about doing it buy a "cherry picker" and after the first few times you'd probably be quite good at pulling the generator.

Shaun Williams

I agree with Lou, Mitsubishi may well be the Dark Horse here. It is always going to require some very slick marketing to overcome the negative perceptions of electric vehicles though, I'm not sure whether that is one of Mitsubishi's strengths but all power to them...



How much of a difference does the extra weight of the genset make to performance/efficiency of the car when compared to the weight of the entire car? Is it enough for its incorporation to make a difference.

What do you do if you only drive far enough to need the genset once a year? There would have to be some way to mothball the genset so that the gas doesn't go bad.

It would be nice to have the genset as an option, rather than standard. You could have it in a rented trailer for those once a year long trips.

Slightly off topic: If an electric car starts off at the top of a hill with a full charge and goes down the hill and tries to stop using regenerative breaking. Where do you put the extra charge?

Rafael Seidl

Neil -

anytime you put an ICE in a vehicle, you have to meet a slew of emissions, safety and noise abatement regulations. Weight and bulk are considerations but not the only ones. Note that all ICEs have to be operated once in a while for the sake of the engine oil and to prevent internal corrosion (cp. stationary emergency gensets). Also, battery life is shortened by deep discharges. Therefore, a PHEV would frequently operate in ICE mode even before the battery pack is fully depleted.

If your electric energy store is full, all excess kinetic energy must be dissipated as heat in the regular brakes.


If you only take a longer trip once a year (or even 3 or 4 times), Then RENT a car!
A removable ICE is not feasable, safe, smart, whatever.
A BEV meets 95% of the transportation needs of most people. They can then have a 2nd ICE car or rent one for trips.

Harvey D.

The average North American couple is almost 200 lbs overweight. An appropriate exercise + diet scheme could effectively bring the total PHEV weight (with two passengers) to the EV weight. Simple, easy and no extra expense to keep a small light weight generator on board.

Savings on food stuff + medical expenses could be significant and easily pay for the electricity required to drive the PHEV around.

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