Mitsubishi i i-MiEV
U.S.-market Mitsubishi i – Click above for high-res image gallery

Mitsubishi has been working on electric vehicles for a long time. So much so that the car the company is now calling the "100% battery-powered Mitsubishi i for the U.S. market" was emblazoned with the words "40 years of EV development" on its back bumper when it as unveiled at the LA Auto Show today. As the sketches we saw of the widebody i hinted at, the new vehicle is indeed longer and wider than the original i-MiEV in order to meet U.S. safety regulations. Oh, and the inside is "a little bit larger for larger frame people," said Maurice Durand, manager of product communications for Mitsubishi Motors North America. Yes, America, Mitsubishi has heard your pleas for more butt space.

The electric i will go on sale in the U.S. next fall and be priced "around $30,000." The company expects to sell just 20,000 units by fiscal 2015, a modest goal, indeed. This is due, in part, to Mitsubishi positioning the i as an electric vehicle best suited for commuting, not one intended to replace the SUV or car you take on long road trips. "Frankly, the main purpose of this car for us is to get us in as a stakeholder in the electric vehicle game and to help pave the way for our future products," Durand told AutoblogGreen. What future Mitsubishi vehicle might that be? The PX-MiEV. Details are yet to come.

As this vehicle shows, the MiEV name survives as something to brand Mitsubishi's eco drivetrains that are based on the battery system used in the i and the i-MiEV. The hardware in the American and European and Japanese vehicles are the same, but the software that runs it is going to be upgraded for the U.S so that car hits a range target of 85 miles on the LA4 test cycle and performs as American drivers expect.

Once available, buyers will be able to buy a preferred 220V charging station, designed and manufactured by Eaton that can fully charge an empty battery in eight hours, at Best Buy. Mitsubishi had a partnership with Best Buy in the past and had some Geek Squad groups use Japanese-spec i-MiEVs for service calls. Having Best Buy get familiar with the vehicle – learn how it charges and how it reacts in a real world environment – helped convince the retail giant to sell the charger, Durand said.


Related GalleryLA 2010: 2012 Mitsubishi i-MiEV
LA 2010: 2012 Mitsubishi i-MiEVLA 2010: 2012 Mitsubishi i-MiEVLA 2010: 2012 Mitsubishi i-MiEVLA 2010: 2012 Mitsubishi i-MiEVLA 2010: 2012 Mitsubishi i-MiEVLA 2010: 2012 Mitsubishi i-MiEVLA 2010: 2012 Mitsubishi i-MiEVLA 2010: 2012 Mitsubishi i-MiEV

Photos copyright ©2010 Jeff Glucker / AOL


PRESS RELEASE

Mitsubishi Unveils North American Version Of New "i" Electric Vehicle At The 2010 Los Angeles Auto Show

Wed, Nov 17, 2010 - LOS ANGELES -

Building on the company's more than 35 years of involvement in advanced electric vehicle development, Mitsubishi Motors has unveiled its first all-electric production vehicle bound for the North American market.

Based on the very popular gasoline-powered "i" minicar in the Japanese market, this roomy and practical four-door 2012 model serves as the basis for the new 100% battery-powered Mitsubishi "i" for the North American market. The zero tailpipe emission "i" will be the first North American production vehicle to be powered by Mitsubishi innovative Electric Vehicle (MiEV) technology – cutting edge drivetrain engineering that will serve as the basis for future ultra-environmentally-friendly vehicles from the company. Gone are conventional automotive systems including a gasoline engine, transmission and a fuel tank, having been replaced by advanced components including a lithium-ion battery system, electric motor and an efficient battery charging system in the all-new "i". This electric vehicle has already proved itself a viable and reliable form of transportation as Mitsubishi has been selling the car in its home market since the summer of 2009; production has already commenced for the European-spec i-MiEV, with deliveries beginning later this year.

Mitsubishi anticipates an initial roll out of the "i" to its dealership network in the western United States (specifically California, Oregon, Washington and Hawaii) in November 2011, with entry into the northeastern market to follow by March 2012 and nationwide availability by the end of 2012. The vehicle's MSRP is expected to be around $30,000, not including Federal and available state financial incentives.

The new production Mitsubishi "i" bound for the North American market further differentiates itself from its Japanese- and European-spec versions with a retooled, larger body to provide even more interior comfort for four adults, along with new North American-spec bumpers front and rear for enhanced protection in the event of a collision. Other noteworthy safety measures on the North American-spec vehicle include airbags that protect passengers and control deployment force, Active Stability Control (ASC) and a Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) - all included as standard equipment.

Easier on the Environment

Thanks to its extremely efficient all-electric powertrain, the Mitsubishi "i" produces zero on-road CO2, making it a zero emissions vehicle. What's more, when factoring in the CO2 emissions produced by the power plants that generated the electricity that provides the energy for the "i", this revolutionary Mitsubishi production car only produces about 30% of the CO2 emitted by the 660cc gasoline engine that powers the non-electric-version of the car in its home market. And the reduction in CO2 becomes even more statistically significant considering that the 660cc gasoline engine found in the Japanese market is only about one-third of the displacement of the typical four-cylinder gasoline engine powering cars in the North American market.

Additional energy efficiency can be wrung from the "i" model's electric powertrain thanks to Eco (Economy) and Brake driving modes that supplement the vehicle's standard Drive mode. The Eco mode limits excessive power usage from reaching the motor while the Brake mode increases the resistance of the regenerative braking system (especially when driving downhill) to feed even more energy back into the car's bank of lithium-ion batteries.

Low Cost "Fuel" Source

The operating cost per mile of the electrical-powered Mitsubishi "i" is significantly cheaper than that of a comparable gasoline-powered vehicle. In Japan, the operating cost is only 1/3 that of the 660cc gasoline engine-powered version of the car, and the operating cost can drop even more significantly than that of its internal-combustion sibling by taking advantage of reduced electricity rates by recharging during nighttime or off-peak hours*.

Clever Design = Spacious Accommodations, Outstanding Safety

Thanks to the vehicle's excellent packaging and engineering in relation to its size, this uniquely styled automobile provides an excellent level of safety, ample room for four adults plus handy cargo space.

How can a small car possess such ample interior volume? Mitsubishi engineers have cleverly placed the high-capacity lithium-ion batteries beneath the floor, and the electric motor, inverter and battery charger have been located behind and below the rear passenger area. This setup also has the added benefit of lowering the vehicle's center of gravity. Along with the wheels being placed at the farthest corners of the vehicle, this gives the "i" exceptional stability along with surprisingly agile handling.

Advanced Electric Powertrain

The power system consists of a permanent magnet synchronous electric motor and a high energy density lithium-ion battery pack that consists of 88 cells (22 modules, 4 battery cells per module) for a maximum battery capacity of 16 kWh. The battery modules can be installed either transversely or vertically; this packaging flexibility allows them to be stored underneath the cabin floor. All 88 cells reside within an extremely sturdy stainless steel capsule to provide maximum protection.

The "i" also features a groundbreaking three-way battery charging system that allows the vehicle to be charged using the onboard household charger through either 110V (15A) or 220V (15A) power sources or by a quick-charger system that utilizes a three-phase 220V power supply. The charging times from a very low battery to completely full are approximately 8 hours at 220V and 16 hours at 110V. The three-phase 220V quick-charger can take a low battery all the way up to an 80% battery charge in under a remarkably fast 30 minutes. The three-phase quick-charger makes use of a special outlet that is accessible on the driver's side of the vehicle, while the onboard household charger's outlet is located on the passenger side of the "i".

Strategic Research and Logistical Partners

The Mitsubishi "i" has undergone several years of exhaust testing and evaluation not only internally by the Japanese auto manufacturer but with several other institutions, including seven utility companies in Japan, as well as prototype evaluation programs with major United States utilities Southern California Edison, Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E), Portland General Electric and the Tennessee Valley Authority.

And in an effort to help expand and improve the logistical side of the electric vehicle ownership experience, Mitsubishi has teamed with corporate titans including consumer electronics retailer Best Buy and leading power management company Eaton Corporation. Best Buy, through its 20,000-plus strong employees in its Geek Squad division, has partnered to provide site analysis and work to manage installation of a Level 2 Charging Station it will sell through its stores for Mitsubishi "i" owners to use in their own homes. Designed and manufactured by Eaton - a company that has more than 20 years of experience in developing electrical and hybrid power systems for commercial vehicles - this 220V charging station will cut the time it takes to charge the car's batteries in half when compared to a standard 110V electrical outlet.

*Note: Electricity rates can vary by region, supplier and timing.

Mitsubishi "i" specifications

(North American Version)

Overall length

144.8-in.

Overall width

62.4-in.

Overall height

63.6-in.

Track: F/R

55.9 / 54.3-in.

Wheelbase

100.4-in.

Number of passengers

4

Vehicle weight

2584 lbs.

Motor output

63 hp

Motor torque

133 lb.-ft

Battery system

330V lithium-ion

Drive mode

Mid-engine, rear-wheel drive