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Published on November 21st, 2008 | by Nick Chambers

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Mitsubishi Partnering with California and Oregon to Bring Electric Cars to Market

November 21st, 2008 by  
 

After my test drive of the Mitsubishi i MiEV at the 2008 LA Auto Show yesterday, I walked away with the distinct feeling that Mistubishi has designed a sporty, relatively spacious, and well-thought-out winner of an electric car.

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Mitsubishi is currently testing the i MiEV in California in collaboration with Southern California Edison. Additionally, according to Mitsubishi executive, David Patterson, the company is in negotiations to partner with Oregon after Nissan announced its new electric car partnership with the state on Wednesday. I guess everybody wants to get in on the Oregon action.

My feeling that the i MiEV — regardless of its awful name — is a winner, was heavily reinforced after comparing the it to the Mini E electric car in a different test drive later in the day. Of the two, it seems the engineers at Mitsubishi have a better grasp of what people will like in an electric car and took care to make sure consumers had the choices they’ll want..

For instance, the i MiEV has room for four adults (and some storage space in the back of the car to boot). It also has a way to switch between an economy mode, in which the driving range is extended and regenerative braking is used to it’s fullest, and a normal mode where the car behaves more like a conventional car when it comes to braking (see my post from yesterday about the Mini E to learn more about this issue).

The i MiEV has a top speed of 81 mph, making it highway legal, and can go up to 100 miles on a single charge. The car is based on Mitsubishi’s “i” gas-powered compact car already on sale in Japan. The 47 kW (63 hp) electric motor has improved handling and acceleration characteristics over the 64 hp gas engine in the “i” car, and is powered by a 330 volt lithium ion battery.

When I asked David Patterson about an expected on-sale date to the general public in the US, he said that there’ll probably be about a year and a half of testing the i MiEV in Southern California (and maybe Oregon) before they can start thinking about releasing it to the general public. So I’m guessing it’ll be at least 2010 before you’ll be able to purchase one in the US — and even then it might be restricted to certain geographic locations.


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  • Tim Cleland

    So it’s looking like 2010 will be the year of the electric car. Should be pretty exciting. I wonder how well they’ll catch on, and I wonder how much it will decrease our oil imports (domestic coal and natural gas are the main energy sources for the U.S. electrical grid).

    Assuming that most people will charge the cars over night, the grid should be able to handle the increased load. I went to a seminar by an electric power expert recently and he said it’s actually a good thing for the power plants because usually over night, they have to operate at “part throttle” which is very inefficient.

  • Tim Cleland

    So it’s looking like 2010 will be the year of the electric car. Should be pretty exciting. I wonder how well they’ll catch on, and I wonder how much it will decrease our oil imports (domestic coal and natural gas are the main energy sources for the U.S. electrical grid).

    Assuming that most people will charge the cars over night, the grid should be able to handle the increased load. I went to a seminar by an electric power expert recently and he said it’s actually a good thing for the power plants because usually over night, they have to operate at “part throttle” which is very inefficient.

  • It’s funny how everybody’s talking about the iMiEV, which frankly is ugly as sin, but nobody at all is talking about the new C100 electric car made by BG Automotive, due out in early 2009. The C100 is a full-featured car with all the safety and amenities you’d expect from a gas car, but is all-electric and will cost less that $20k.

    Gas2.org writers, you listening? You gotta do a feature on this car. I can’t believe I beat you, and almost every other big blog to it:

    http://www.zoomilife.com/2008/11/14/bgs-c100-to-become-first-mass-produced-electric-car-available-in-usa/

  • It’s funny how everybody’s talking about the iMiEV, which frankly is ugly as sin, but nobody at all is talking about the new C100 electric car made by BG Automotive, due out in early 2009. The C100 is a full-featured car with all the safety and amenities you’d expect from a gas car, but is all-electric and will cost less that $20k.

    Gas2.org writers, you listening? You gotta do a feature on this car. I can’t believe I beat you, and almost every other big blog to it:

    http://www.zoomilife.com/2008/11/14/bgs-c100-to-become-first-mass-produced-electric-car-available-in-usa/

  • Nick Chambers

    Electric Vehicle News (Sebastian?),

    Although I know how tempting it is to gloat, I’ve gotta say that the C100 electric car is not at all comparable to the iMiEV (or the Mini E for that matter). So it irks me that you claim you’re scooping us. First off, it’s a big internet and there’s room for everybody.

    Second off the C100 is classified as a neighborhood electric car. There are lots of neighborhood electric cars out there. They can’t go more than 45 mph, have a real world range somewhere around 60-80 miles, and don’t have to meet any where near the safety standards of highway certified cars. While these types of cars serve their purpose, they are ultimately a niche car for a specific type of person.

    GEM (recently absorbed by Chrysler) has been making neighborhood electric vehicles for years. http://www.gemcar.com/

    While I applaud BG Automotive for making one of the neighborhood electric cars look like a normal car and giving it airbags, it’s not an earth-shattering development.

    Thanks for the heads up, but blatant gloats and link bombs without teeth can end up doing more harm than good for your credibility in the long run.

  • Haha, nice. So true, you can’t really compare the iMiev to an NEV. Although, the BG C100 will be fairly cheap, it is yet to be legalized for most roadways. Will the iMiev be incorporated into Better Place’s electric vehicle battery exchange stations? Since Better Place just announced plans to build them in those two state.

  • Haha, nice. So true, you can’t really compare the iMiev to an NEV. Although, the BG C100 will be fairly cheap, it is yet to be legalized for most roadways. Will the iMiev be incorporated into Better Place’s electric vehicle battery exchange stations? Since Better Place just announced plans to build them in those two state.

  • Nick Chambers

    John,

    Not sure about how much collaboration mitsu’s doing with Better Place, but it would only make sense. All of these groups/governments/corporations that are developing electric cars and charging networks really need to be involved at the same level, otherwise, in the end, it’s all kind of pointless.

  • Hey Nick,

    Yeah sorry about the gloat – normally I am a lot more reserved but was definitely in a mood last night. My apologies.

    I would, however, love to see some more articles about what the smaller EV guys like BG and Miles automotive are up to. I just found out about Miles Automotive and their XS500 electric sedan, and the specs on the vehicle look impressive. Here are the specs of the XS500 in a nutshell:

    The car’s projected price tag is in the $30,000-$35,000 range with an 80mph top speed and an average range-per-charge of 120 miles (at 60mph average speed). Full charge time takes about 6-7 hours on a normal 110v outlet.

    I personally think it’s awesome that so many new EV manufacturers are hitting the scene in ’09. Way to give the big boys a run for their money and keep them competitive.

  • Hey Nick,

    Yeah sorry about the gloat – normally I am a lot more reserved but was definitely in a mood last night. My apologies.

    I would, however, love to see some more articles about what the smaller EV guys like BG and Miles automotive are up to. I just found out about Miles Automotive and their XS500 electric sedan, and the specs on the vehicle look impressive. Here are the specs of the XS500 in a nutshell:

    The car’s projected price tag is in the $30,000-$35,000 range with an 80mph top speed and an average range-per-charge of 120 miles (at 60mph average speed). Full charge time takes about 6-7 hours on a normal 110v outlet.

    I personally think it’s awesome that so many new EV manufacturers are hitting the scene in ’09. Way to give the big boys a run for their money and keep them competitive.

  • Doug

    Ok, now we all have to wait for ChuckL to jump in and tell us how none of this matters because he can not drive to see his relative 500 miles away. It is good to see the huge push EV’s have been getting. I still will not buy one until they increase the range and infrastructure, but I am glad to see the market is going the right way.

  • Doug

    Ok, now we all have to wait for ChuckL to jump in and tell us how none of this matters because he can not drive to see his relative 500 miles away. It is good to see the huge push EV’s have been getting. I still will not buy one until they increase the range and infrastructure, but I am glad to see the market is going the right way.

  • Hammer Time

    Sorry dude that is one funky looking car!

    http://www.privacy.de.tc

  • Hammer Time

    Sorry dude that is one funky looking car!

    http://www.privacy.de.tc

  • noel

    I’m not too familiar with electric car’s carbon footprint: If everyong drove them, would we burn less fossil fuels? I thought not having to move the power to the cars made them more efficient. In other words: Why burn fossil fuels in a plant and then move it to the car if you can just burn it in the car? I’m not a scientist, but the extra step just makes the whole thing a bit fishy from an efficiency standpoint. I guess if you handicap the cars and make them less powerful that could go a long way toward making the model work… or?

  • noel

    I’m not too familiar with electric car’s carbon footprint: If everyong drove them, would we burn less fossil fuels? I thought not having to move the power to the cars made them more efficient. In other words: Why burn fossil fuels in a plant and then move it to the car if you can just burn it in the car? I’m not a scientist, but the extra step just makes the whole thing a bit fishy from an efficiency standpoint. I guess if you handicap the cars and make them less powerful that could go a long way toward making the model work… or?

  • Nick Chambers

    Noel,

    Two things:

    1) Even if we were to “fuel” electric cars on 100% coal fired power plants the overall greenhouse gas emissions would be less than from driving the same amount of fuel powered cars. The efficiency of transmitting electricity around the country to power cars is much much higher than the efficiency of transporting fossil fuels. Power plants are single source pollution emitters and are, due to scale, much more efficient burners of fuel than cars. Plus, it is much easier to regulate and provide cleaner technologies to one emission source than it is to implement the same technologies on a million cars.

    2) As time moves on, our electricity will be more and more provided from wind, solar, geothermal and wave power. So, taking the long view, electricity is ultimately a zero emissions power source.

  • Sorry dude that is one funky looking car!

  • Sorry dude that is one funky looking car!

  • DAN

    mitsubishi rocks 🙂

  • DAN

    mitsubishi rocks 🙂

  • Already in California, Noel, only 2% of our electrons are generated by burning coal to make water boil to make steam turn the turbines that create electricity, because we have had Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) legislation that requires utilities to buy an ever increasing percent of renewable electricity like wind etc.

    Other states still have a higher percentage of coal in the mix, but that will change because:

    1. 26 other states have now signed RPS legislation, so their coal use will decrease as a percent of electricity like here in CA.

    2. And the Democrats tried to pass this RPS legislation 8 times since the Clinton/Gore era, but been filibustered. Now that they will have enough (2 or 3 Republicans support it) of a clean energy majority, (and Obama voted YEA each time they tried to pass it) next year we will likely get RPS passed nationwide.

  • Already in California, Noel, only 2% of our electrons are generated by burning coal to make water boil to make steam turn the turbines that create electricity, because we have had Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) legislation that requires utilities to buy an ever increasing percent of renewable electricity like wind etc.

    Other states still have a higher percentage of coal in the mix, but that will change because:

    1. 26 other states have now signed RPS legislation, so their coal use will decrease as a percent of electricity like here in CA.

    2. And the Democrats tried to pass this RPS legislation 8 times since the Clinton/Gore era, but been filibustered. Now that they will have enough (2 or 3 Republicans support it) of a clean energy majority, (and Obama voted YEA each time they tried to pass it) next year we will likely get RPS passed nationwide.

  • M@

    Correction: in most states, Neighborhood Vehicles (Electric or otherwise) are limited to 25mph, not 45mph. In Illinois there are a lot of restrictions on when and where you can drive ’em, and you must get permission from each local government agency that controlls the roads. All because of that 4th wheel (three is a magic number, as it’s a motorcycle).

    For folks like ChuckL that think they need more range or more passenger room, most also don’t need a 2-5,000 pound vehicle to take them the 25 or so miles or less an Average American drives in a typical day (http://www.pluginamerica.com/images/driving_habits_graph.jpg) — this is from an 1990 study, but I haven’t found an updated graph based on newer information…

    Infrastructure??? There are more places to charge up an EV than there are gas stations… as long as your EV is 110V, three-prong compatible (mine is). If it’s not, then it’s a failure on your manufacturer’s part.

    Last year I put about 4,000 miles on a 1998 Twike Active (legally an electric trike motorcycle, but it’s covered so it’s all-weather), picking up the girls from school/daycare and going back and forth to work.

    Yeah, I still have the gas car for long distance drives or when I need to haul the entire family BUT if I were single I’d just have Der Twike and rent a big gas car when I needed it.

    It does require you to Think Different, but once you do you find that you drive slower, saner and stick to roads that are less likely to be driven on by the psychopaths that “slow down” to 35mph in a school zone (in Illinois that’s a 20mph zone)… and there are a lot of ’em!

  • M@

    Correction: in most states, Neighborhood Vehicles (Electric or otherwise) are limited to 25mph, not 45mph. In Illinois there are a lot of restrictions on when and where you can drive ’em, and you must get permission from each local government agency that controlls the roads. All because of that 4th wheel (three is a magic number, as it’s a motorcycle).

    For folks like ChuckL that think they need more range or more passenger room, most also don’t need a 2-5,000 pound vehicle to take them the 25 or so miles or less an Average American drives in a typical day (http://www.pluginamerica.com/images/driving_habits_graph.jpg) — this is from an 1990 study, but I haven’t found an updated graph based on newer information…

    Infrastructure??? There are more places to charge up an EV than there are gas stations… as long as your EV is 110V, three-prong compatible (mine is). If it’s not, then it’s a failure on your manufacturer’s part.

    Last year I put about 4,000 miles on a 1998 Twike Active (legally an electric trike motorcycle, but it’s covered so it’s all-weather), picking up the girls from school/daycare and going back and forth to work.

    Yeah, I still have the gas car for long distance drives or when I need to haul the entire family BUT if I were single I’d just have Der Twike and rent a big gas car when I needed it.

    It does require you to Think Different, but once you do you find that you drive slower, saner and stick to roads that are less likely to be driven on by the psychopaths that “slow down” to 35mph in a school zone (in Illinois that’s a 20mph zone)… and there are a lot of ’em!

  • Doug

    Unfortunately the way most of suburban America is designed, the NEV is not a feasible alternative. A top speed of 35mph is not sufficient for anyone that has to go on any state roads since the speed limit is 45mph. So for anyone that does not live in a major metro area these are just fancy golf carts. I really hope someone will make a decent sized, cost effective EV soon.

  • Doug

    Unfortunately the way most of suburban America is designed, the NEV is not a feasible alternative. A top speed of 35mph is not sufficient for anyone that has to go on any state roads since the speed limit is 45mph. So for anyone that does not live in a major metro area these are just fancy golf carts. I really hope someone will make a decent sized, cost effective EV soon.

  • r4nd0mn4me

    I for one love the i-MiEV and can’t wait for it to come to Canada. I don’t need expensive battery swapping or weird charging infrastructure, just sell me the car and I’ll make due with the 160km a day range. I can drive to work and back all week with out charging if I wanted to. I have been clocking my daily use of my Smart fortwo and avrage 15km on a work day and I at most use 70km/day once or twice a week. The only downside is I won’t be able to take her up to Mt. Washington without stopping for a charge along the way. I guess it’s time to make some friends with 240v outlets…haha.

  • r4nd0mn4me

    I for one love the i-MiEV and can’t wait for it to come to Canada. I don’t need expensive battery swapping or weird charging infrastructure, just sell me the car and I’ll make due with the 160km a day range. I can drive to work and back all week with out charging if I wanted to. I have been clocking my daily use of my Smart fortwo and avrage 15km on a work day and I at most use 70km/day once or twice a week. The only downside is I won’t be able to take her up to Mt. Washington without stopping for a charge along the way. I guess it’s time to make some friends with 240v outlets…haha.

  • Sorry dude that is one funky looking car!!

  • Sorry dude that is one funky looking car!!

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