Mitsubishi Delivers EV Prototypes to Utilities

12 March 2007
 The i MiEV

Mitsubishi Motors has delivered prototypes of its i MiEV research electric vehicle to two utilities in Japan: Tokyo Electric Power and Kyushu Electric Power. (Earlier post.)

The 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.

The research vehicles will be used to collect data on driving performance and battery-charging capabilities, with this information to be used in designing vehicles for field trials. Mitsubishi Motors will deliver 10 more i MiEVs to Tokyo Electric Power later this year for use as business vehicles as part of the trials.

Mitsubishi plans to sell the commercial version in 2010 for less than ¥2 million (US$17,000). Fuji Heavy Industries, the maker of Subarus, has also begun field trials of 10 EVs placed with Tokyo Electric. Comments Looks like a great little commuter car.$17,000 would be a very attractive price given the price of gas and lower maintenance costs for an EV. I wonder how long it would take for these to be available on this side of the pond.

Both Mitsu and Subaru ( google for subaru R1E ) are at it now, building full BEVs, the race is on.
Looks like TEPCO is pushing the innovation. Time to electric power providers across the world to realize the benefits for them ?

2m Yen seems like a fair price for a compact car whose fuel cost is very low. The premium over the gasoline-powered alternative will take a number of years to amortize, but perhaps a sufficient number of Japanese consumers will be prepared to make that trade-off to contribute toward improved air quality, reduced traffic noise and reduced dependence on OPEC.

The average speed of traffic in the major Japanese cities is so low that the low rated power and limited range of an affordable EV should not matter all that much, especially if it is not the family's primary vehicle. Much the same is true of parts of Los Angeles, London, Paris, Rome and many other cities. European consumers are also used to the aesthetic, which is something of a cross between a smart fortwo and the original Renault Twingo. Americans may find it less familiar.

Any city/country looking to promote the adoption of this and similar urban EVs should focus on preferential treatment via park-and-charge locations, rather than straight tax credits or subsidies. This would be analogous to the current practice of reserving parking spots for the handicapped. Owners of conventional cars would be inconvenienced and initially, spend even more time and fossil fuel looking for parking. However, this will greatly increase the incentive to switch to an EV. After all, many of us value our time even more highly than the contents of our wallet.

One big remaining problem for EVs is the range penalty of switching the a/c on. More effort needs to go into reducing the amount of infrared radiation that gets into the passenger compartment without blocking the driver's view. Given that urban EVs are usually driven at low speeds, this may be more important than aerodynamic optimization.

Normally battery packs will only last about 1000 cycles or so, and they lose performance with each time they are recharged. This gives the vehicle a lifetime of about 100,000 kilometers or so for the 16kwh model, or about 60,000 miles or so before you'd need to replace the battery pack. You'd have to know the cost of the battery pack to determine the true cost of ownership in the long term.

really good news , and boy do we need some at the moment . I wonder how long or suedo- green governments can keep these cars out of europe .

Rafael:

$17K for a Japanese made (high quality) Lithium powered BEV and you're still complaining. What will it take to please you? A$7k Chinese version or do you prefer a $86K USA version. Personnally, I find the$17K Japanese BEV very interesting and would even pay a bit more (+$5K)for a PHEV version with similar or samller battery pack.$7K to $10K Chinese BEV version with be around within 2 years. Sid - no EV that requires replacing the expensive battery pack during the expected life span of the vehicle has any chance of market success. All HEV/PHEV/BEV manufacturers go to great lengths to maintain operating temperatures and charge levels that extend battery life as much as possible. The 1000 cycles you mention refer to deep cycling of commodity Li-ion cells, which is something you try to avoid by design - at the expense of average operating range. One issue peculiar to Li-ion chemistry is calendar-based aging. This is rarely discussed, perhaps because it is hard to validate claims with accelerated testing. Early BEV adopters will need to learn a little about how to maximize battery life, much as early adopters of ICE engines had to know a little about making minor repairs. One useful feature would be a permanent record of charge history stored by the on-board computer, to enable conservative estimates of remaining battery life when selling the vehicle. Naturally, tamperproofing would be essential. Buyers would also need assistance to translate this data into an asset value using advice from professionals - much like conventional used cars are valued today. Harvey - I'm not complaining, I think$17k is a reasonable price point for such a vehicle. It's just that performance is not on par with that of the same vehicle with a conventional engine and consumers have for many decades been taught to value performance. For EVs to win market share, they have to start valuing other benefits that are arguably more relevant to their driving situation. In this vehicle segment, it certainly helps close the deal if the financial picture is also acceptable over the life span of the vehicle.

Don't know the particulars of this battery but 1000 cycles is ancient history, 2000-15000 seems to be possible now. Anyway by the time you wear that one out something much better will be available.

Rafael,

With 63HP (47kw) it matches the performance of just about every 660cc Kei car...except it has much greater torque. Range compared to the average Kei car is the only metric where it can't compete. [Kei cars tend to be lower price, but you also have to pay $5/gallon for gasoline in Japan.] The range of 99 miles on the 20 Kwh pack isn't bad. I could see a car like this meeting the needs of quite a few people, especially in urban areas. I wonder if one of these could be sold in the U.S. for$17,000? It would probably cost more to import...unless they would build a new factory in the U.S...(hint hint).

Mitsubishi build a factory in the US? I say that is highly unlikely...not sure if they can use any of chrysler or dodge's factories for this vehicle either.

Changes for meeting crash standards of the US would probably prevent it from being registered for use on US roads. Mitsubishi has stated before they would not bring this body style to the US...

Sid , you mention that battery packs have a life of around 1000 cycles, here in europe some BEV maufacturers are using zebra batterys , which are made in switzerland by a company called Mes DEA , this battery has been around for some ten years or so and some vehicles fitted with it have covered some 2 million miles with the original battery , the battery is molten salt and does not suffer from oxidation like most other cells . Recent tests have also shown that a 30 minute charge is enough to propell the car for 60 km approx half the range of a 20kwh unit in a small car , also having a hot core , 250 degrees centigrade means that cold operation is not a problem , a common failing of most batterys .
You may ask why is the whole world not using this type of cell , I do not know
in large scale production it can be made cheaply , having little or no precious metals inside , you do not need a clean room to assemble it , it is relativly light 165 kg and the size of a suit case for a 20kwh unit , however as far as I know
it is only manufactured by one company Mes Dea , recently it was announced that
the Indian car manufacturer Reva will be using this type of cell in their new city car
which is aimed at markets in europe, so hopefully the costs will come down to a more affordable level .

Nice to see straight BEVs being produced. I think a BEV would actually make more sense than PHEVs in the short term for people who own multiple vehicles, and will ultimately be the long term solution for everyone assuming battery/supercap tech follows its Moore's law-like trend. Micro, mild, and full hybridization certainly makes sense to improve fuel efficiency and reduce emissions on ICE powered vehicles, but I'm not convinced that the benefits of PHEV will ever be able to justify the added weight, complexity and cost as compared to BEVs, HEVs, or even clean diesels, for more than a small niche market.

While I can recognize the logic of a BEV for multiple vehicle households in the near term, I would think a PHEV makes more sense for a single vehicle household. I certainly don't get two parking spots at my apartment complex.

Only time will tell how long these battery packs last in the real world and only real owners can be trusted to be honest about that. Until they are mass-producing these cars we'll never know how long they last. Also the range could be as little as 20 miles in some places. Why? Because climate control draws huge amounts of power, and if you live in a region with both horrible traffic and extreme climates (snowy Boston or scorching hot L.A. come to mind) then your range drops dramatically.

climate control doesn't use that much power;

if the specs are true, its indeed a good option;

with this car, i will save ~600Eur a year in fuel cost; (15ct/kwh)
100Eur in Tax, maybe 100Eur in assurance
and putin gets a kick in his ass !

The battery pack should last 12 years, 3000cylces 80% capacity;

After 12 years i will buy a new battery pack and go one for other 12years :)

Anyone know the power demands for a/c?

Electric will be more efficient than the mechanical units used currently in cars.

2kW of energy per hour in a car being used midday, during the summer, in a very hot climate? Seem like a reasonable guess to anyone involved with HVAC systems (particularly in cars)?

Patrick:

Recent high efficiency (23+ SEER) A/C or Heat Pump can cool or heat a 9600 cu. ft. house with less than 2 KWh/hour.

You should be able to fully satisfy a 110 cu. ft car with a lot less power.

Battery pack performance, compactness, cost and duration will change quickly-favourably (as did LCD TV) in the next 3 to 4 years. Replacement (if required) or upgrades (to increase range and performance) will cost a lot less than many people think.

Most automotive belt-driven A/C units consume 5 to 10 horsepower, which is 3.8 to 7.6 kilowatts.

As for heat, a consumer hair dryer would take quite a while to warm up a car, and those are 1.2kw. A strong heater that's capable of defrosting windshields and warming up a car would likely be 5kw too. Also keep in mind cars aren't insulated and houses are. Cars have to run their climate control systems at dramatically higher duty cycles to maintain a temperature. For a home A/C system for example, the air coming out the vents should be 18 to 22 degrees colder than the air going in. For a car, the air coming out is 50 degrees colder. You can confirm this easily just by getting a thermometer with a remote probe. I have confirmed it myself to make sure my A/C is working in my own car for example and 50 degrees is typical. The power draw is huge for automotive A/C.

It looks like a great city or second car.
Once you start to talk about things like A/C, the solutions start to become apparent - insulate the car better - double glaze as many windows as possible - use K glass, etc.
Design the whole vehicle given it won't go more than 81 mph.
Give them Kei car parking priveleges.
There are huge benefits for city dwellers if as many people as possible use E cars.
You could build a portable generator for range extension, but it would be a "marketing" range extender, rather than something most people would use as it would take up boot (trunk) space.

7.6 HP to keep 110 cu. ft (typical car interior volume) cool! Is this another demonstration of automotive world inefficiencies?

If your (house + HVAC) were as inefficient, a 7600 HP system would be required instead of the current 3 to 7 HP A/C - Geo-Heat Pump units.

No wonder our gas guzzlers can hardly do more than 10 mpg.

Here's a heretic idea regarding heating and A/C in BEVs.

Why not use a fuel-powered burner plus absorption chiller/free-piston Vuilleumier machine to support climate control, rather than waste precious battery capacity on it? Combustion would be continuous, i.e. clean and quiet. Sort of a reverse hybrid, I suppose.

The snag is that heat-driven refrigeration systems are not available off the shelf for mobile applications. There's been some useful research in Denmark (Univ. Lyngby) and Germany (Univ. Dortmund, Univ. Stuttgart) in this area, though.

When I was a kid we had heating and A/C ... we called them a jacket and opening the window. They still work. People are such wimps.

___Speaking of electric cars, switching from hydrocarbon (gas and liquid) to electric propulsion will entail an increase in electric power generation. In Japan, some of the additional energy will be renewable; energy from indirect (biomass, wind, wave, etc.) and direct (solar) sources. However, if biomass fed powerplants (IGCC, or SOFC w/ waste heat recuperators down the road) and energy storage capacities are not high enough, fission nukes (preferably 4th Gen) may be necessary to fill the gap, for a switch over to electric vehicles.
_
___I've been noticing an interesting possibility for parts of the northern Mexico/Southwestern region. During the winter, the winds are high and relatively reliable. During the summer, the sunshine is intense. A combined wind and solar energy production program could exploit this potential to power both countries, with a huge side benefit of greatly reduced carbon intensity.
_Yes, it will be expensive, and there is a drug war going on across northern Mexico, but both countries need to move on this due to:
a) decreasing oil output and growing economies+populations in both countries
b) the effects of GHG and climate change
c) the cash we send overseas for the fuel we import (Mexico imports large quantities of gasoline from the US due to a worsening refining capacity shortage) to power our economies is not sustainable.
At the very least, complete a feasibility study.

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