Mitsubishi, California Utilities to Conduct Joint Electric Car Research

The 100-mile range electric car has been operating with Japanese power companies for the last two years.

Published: 07-Aug-2008

Two California electric utilities have signed letters of intent to conduct research and demonstration programs using Mitsubishi's i MiEV electric car.

Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) and Southern California Edison (SCE) will join the growing list of utilities who are working with Mitsubishi Motor Corporation to test the real world viability of the Japanese carmaker's four-door, all-electric mini car starting in the fourth quarter of 2008. Over the last two years, seven Japanese power companies have been operating the 100-mile range, lithium ion-powered electric car.

The i MiEV is based on Mitsubishi's "i" gasoline mini car whose engine has been replaced by a 47kW electric motor and under-the-floor 330-volt lithium ion batterhy pack, offering improved performance and quicker acceleration over the 64-hp gas model.

Mitsubishi plans to offer the car for sale in Japan a year from now in the summer of 2009, with possible North American introduction to follow after that.

Both PG&E and SCE are involved in related plug-in electric and hybrid vehicle demonstrations, the former with Tesla Motor Cars, the latter with Ford Motor Company on its plug-in hybrid Ford Escape. According to Mitsubishi, the testing will provide the participants with vehicle data that "will be used to publicly demonstrate and validate the many benefits of dedicated electric vehicles within the California market."

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Ray Lane, managing partner of venture-capital firm Kleiner Perkins, Caufield and Byers, which has invested in Think, believes Think could eventually sell as many as 30,000 to 50,000 City cars a year.

The production electric vehicle to be introduced in 2010 will have a unique bodystyle and is not based on any existing Nissan model, unlike the technology 'mule' pictured above.

The two-seat models of the LC3 to sell for about $8,500 and four-seat models to sell for $11,000. Vehicles comply with FMVSS 500 low-speed electric vehicle standards.


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