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Mitsubishi Heavy to Build Air Conditioners for Hybrid Vehicles

The Nihon Keizai Shimbun reports that Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. (MHI) is establishing an automotive air conditioner business for supplying hybrid-electric vehicles.

According to the report, the company has secured orders from two major US automakers, and will begin mass-producing compressors at a Mie Prefecture facility in 2007. A high-volume production line is scheduled to go online the following year at a US subsidiary in the state of Indiana. Total investments are estimated at about ¥2 billion (US$16.8 million).

Mitsubishi is planning for initial annual capacity of 330,000 units in 2008, and then ramping up to more than 500,000 units.

The forecasts for automotive air conditioners used in hybrids project roughly a 2.5-million unit market in 2012, an eightfold increase from 2005.

MHI already supplies air conditioning systems for cars, buses and trucks. In 2003, the company entered a joint venture with Mitsui & Co. that established an automotive air-conditioner manufacturing and sales base in Shanghai, China.



It seems like the compressor would be similar to regular units, but driven by an electric motor. Maybe it is smaller and runs longer. At any rate, they plan on making a lot of them.


The compressor could be a standard welded unit, with no shaft seals to leak.  Eliminating the mechanical connection to the engine also allows the elimination of hoses, which gets rid of the major source of leaks.  A car with an A/C built around one of these would be a better car, period.

Paul Dietz

I want to see a plug-in hybrid car with a thermal store. Chill it when the car is plugged in, then run the A/C off that for short drives.



Interesting. Years ago, when I was flat broke, I made an air conditioner for my car that ran off a large chest filled with ice. (All you need is a small 12v pump, a fan, and a coil. I used a large transmission oil cooler for the coil). It worked ok, but only ran for about a half hour at the most.

I doubt you'd want to carry the weight and volume required to actually run the a/c for any length of time, but it might be possible to give a PHEV's a/c a little head start before you unplug (let it cool the interior before you drive off). I bet it would be helpful under some conditions. After all, it takes quite a bit of energy to cool the car off when it's really hot.

Auto engineers, are you listening? Paul has a good idea. Could we please have a button on the key fob to start the a/c a few minutes before we start the car?

Thanks Paul!


Come to think of it, use a heat pump, and do the same thing in the winter.

Offering added comfort would make plug-ins even more attractive.


I want to see a PHEV that has an inductive pad on the floor of the garage. You just drive over it until the green light comes on and you are on the grid, to charge or V2G.


Inductive systems are expensive and lossy.  It would be more feasible to use magnets to automatically "dock" a conductive connector.


They had an inductive paddle for the EV1 that seemed to work well.


Most likely the main benifit is simply no mechanical onnection to the engine and thus no parasitic load on it. Just having ac even without using it drains a bit of engine power and thus fuel econ.

Harvey D.

Will recent very high efficiency (SEER-23) heat pump and/or AC technology be used to multiply the on-board HVAC efficiency and reduce energy consumption (battery drain) by 60%+.


The most efficient form of ac would be an ice vest. This is something that is worn by the guy who won the Prius mpg last year.


The EV-1 inductive paddle had to be liquid-cooled, according to rumor.  It was a complex, expensive and lossy affair that we are better off without.


I can find no references any problems with the MagneCharge inductive system used by EV manufacturers. If you have any links, please post them. The web mentions that the customers found it easy to use.


I couldn't find any solid reference to liquid cooling, but here's a claim that MagneCharge costs ~4 times as much as conductive chargers (p. 31).  The inversion to high-frequency AC will also increase losses.  Last, MagneCharge is not compatible with V2G operation.

Paul Dietz

I doubt you'd want to carry the weight and volume required to actually run the a/c for any length of time,

One might be able to reduce the weight by using something other than ice for the store. Chilling it to even lower temperature could increase its specific chilling power. This would make the plug-in part less efficient, but electricity is cheap compared to gasoline.

Another possibility that comes to mind is using an absorption cycle. For example, a lithium bromide (or similar salt) solution could absorb water vapor, allowing the water left behind to chill. The car could regenerate the LiBr solution using engine waste heat, but it could also have a pre-concentrated solution that could be regenerated by electrical heating at 'plug-in' time. The latent heat of evaporation of water is much higher than the latent heat of fusion, so this might weigh less than an ice system.


One thing seems certain, that no matter what method is used to charge EVs, it should be standardized. As far as V2G is concerned, I do not see why you could not inductively couple at high frequency and then invert onto the grid. It may cost more, but when you look at shock hazard and inconvenience, it might be worth it.


Besides the inevitable losses (and impact on V2G economics) you wouldn't do that because it would mean adding the equivalent of another complete MagneCharge system to the cost of the car.


I can see I am not going to convince you that the convenience would outweight the costs for most consumers. So let's agree to disagree and see what the future brings.


The user still has to get out of the car and mate the terminus of a cable with a receptacle.  What's the difference in convenience?  A bladed or twist-lock connector instead of a paddle?

The advantages of induction are related to safety.  This is mostly the perception of safety, as cables can be kept unpowered until connected and ground-fault interruptors do a fine job of preventing harmful shorts.  When you look at the extra $5000 or so per vehicle-charger pair for a bi-directional MagneCharge system, plus the efficiency losses, it's just not worth it.


I am not a V2G fan, I just put that in as an option. The orginal post had to do with an inductive pad on the garage floor that you just park over to charge the car. That would be more convenient than plugging in anything. You might be surprised to find out how many people would not plug in their cars when they get home. You could say that is their problem, but if you want to achieve the gains made by using PHEVs, you actually have to use them they way they were intended to be used, in large enough numbers to make a difference. Some would say that it is a pocketbook issue, that they save money by plugging in...right and they save money by recycling, but that does not get us very far.

John Donaldson

I have a propane refrigerator in my old airstream works by heating the gas and the gas condensation cycle absorbs heat from inside the refridgerator a system like that run off of the exhaust (ice engine) or battery heat sodium cloride battery or any wast heat source would be feasable.


Here is a good diagram of how an absorption AC works:

A while back we discussed city busses using engine heat to cool the inside of the bus using absorption. The G forces might be quite a challenge however.


You'd just have to use active pumps instead of the gravity systems used for RV fridges.


Yes electric compressors, bigger alternators and batteries and auto-stop would be a benefit to virtually everything.

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