Special Coverage

New York Int’l Auto Show

NEW YORK – The Mitsubishi Motors Corp. electric vehicle that goes on sale next year in Japan mostly will be targeted to fleet customers, but it also will be offered to individual consumers, says Kenichiro Wada, project manager-MiEV (Mitsubishi Innovative Electric Vehicle).

MMC displayed its i-MiEV in the U.S. for the first time at the auto show here.

“It’s pure electric,” Wada points out. “We’re investigating bringing it to other countries, but that will require testing.”

Details for a U.S. fleet-test program currently are being hammered out, the auto maker says.

MMC’s consumer research will examine whether the diminutive pollution-free vehicle is big enough and its 80-mile (129-km) range far enough for U.S.-market preferences.

The car will run on lithium-ion batteries powering a magnet electric motor. The batteries are recharged in two ways; overnight with a standard wall outlet and in 30 minutes with a quick-charger device.

Pricing has yet to be announced.

Mitsubishi has been working on experimental electric vehicles since the 1970s, says Tetsuro Aikawa, managing director-product development.

A gasoline version of the “i” minicar has been on sale in Japan since 2006. It features an aluminum 0.66L turbocharged engine located ahead of the rear axle.

“The fact that we can build an electric and gasoline vehicle on a common platform enhances the viability of electric vehicles,” he says.

Also on the MMC stand at the New York auto show is the i-MiEV Sport concept, featuring multiple motors.

Two 20-kW electric motors built into each front wheel work with a single 47-kW motor powering the rear wheels.

The concept vehicle’s novel use of energy includes an auxiliary photovoltaic generator on the roof and a power-generating fan inside the front grille.

sfinlay@wardsauto.com