Meidensha's Tiny Electric Motors Pave the Way for Miniature EVs

Mitsubishi's i-MiEV Motor Gets Even Smaller

Mitsubishi’s i-MiEV, well-known in Japan, is a super cute little EV reaching the American market this year. Meidensha, the heavy electrical equipment manufacturer that’s responsible for the i-MiEV’s power controller, isn’t satisfied to rest on the laurels of the work it’s done for Mitsubishi, though – they announced their next generation electric motor and inverter this week at Automotive World 2012.

Small Is the New Awesome

Meidensha has three types of electric motors in development – a 30kW motor for kei cars (the little tiny ones that have all sorts of tax advantages), 60kW for small passenger cars, and 80kW for midsize sedans. Only the 60kW motor was on display at their booth this week.

Perhaps the most surprising thing about Meidensha’s motor was how small it actually was. The motor itself looked as though it could fit under a tiny hood or leave a lot of extra space under a more conventional front end (more room for batteries, right?).

The issue Meidensha is trying to address, of course, is primarily range – or, how far will an electric car go on a full battery charge? This is an issue that worries many people, used to driving three or four hundred miles on a tank of gas. One potential solution is to try to make the vehicle in question more energy efficient; Meidensha, on the other hand, seems to be trying to make it possible for the car to be smaller.

No, Really, They Just Get Tinier

A Meidensha employee (who apparently wished to remain nameless) spoke briefly about the product, as reported by Response:

“This product is the next generation of its type. That’s not to say that we’ve decided whether or not it will be mass produced; we’re in negotiations with several auto makers, and then we’ll announce our next step. Right now, we’re just happy to show the miniaturization process possible for this product.”

The miniaturization process seems feasible in Japan, with its narrow roads and low speed limits found throughout nearly every town and city, but it may go over less well in markets like Europe or the United States (note that the i-MiEV had to put on mass in every dimension in order to meet the specifications for street legality). There is, however, one certainty – if tiny means cute, Japan is headed down the road of the cutest little EVs ever.

Questions? Comments? Let us know below.

Source: | Image: Mitsubishi


Charis Michelsen

spent 7 years living in Germany and Japan, studying both languages extensively, doing translation and education with companies like Bosch, Nissan, Fuji Heavy, and others. Charis has a Bachelor of Science degree in biology and currently lives in Chicago, Illinois. She also believes that Janeway was the best Star Trek Captain.