Monday, January 26, 2009

Mitsubishi previews i MiEV Sport Air Concept ahead of Geneva debut


The concept will benefit from a lower center of gravity and a longer wheelbase than the standard i MiEV on which it’s based


While the idea of an electric sports car is not a new one, mainstream carmakers have been slow to consider the proposition of a performance electric vehicle (EV). Niche carmakers like Tesla, Fisker and Lightning immediately spring to mind when one thinks of electric sports cars, but soon we may be able to add Mitsubishi to that list.

The Japanese carmaker announced today that it will unveil the new i MiEV Sport Air Concept at March’s Geneva Motor Show. The show car will be based on the existing i MiEV all-electric hatch but will feature a much more powerful motor with a higher instantaneous torque. Not much else is known but we can confirm that it will come with a transparent roof, solar panels, and a lithium-ion battery.

The standard i MiEV will be Mitsubishi’s first mass produced all-electric car and is currently scheduled for a 2010 launch in Japan. However, the company plans to start real world trials for the car in Japan, Europe and the U.S. later this year. It will feature a 63hp (46kW) electric motor powered by 330-volt lithium ion batteries. This will provide it with a driving range of roughly 100 miles and should take about seven hours to charge from a household power outlet. In an attempt to curtail long charge times, a 'quick-charge' pack is also being developed by power companies, which will see the i MiEV’s battery being charged to 80% of its capacity in just 35 minutes.

Mitsubishi eventually hopes to sell up to 2,000 i MiEVs in the first year and plans to expand this to around 10,000 units by 2011.