Mitsubishi's Lancer Evo IX goes rallying this weekend. Nothing new with that, but this is an Evo with a difference because instead of a turbocharged 2.0-litre engine the Lancer Evolution MIEV boasts a bank of lithium-ion batteries powering a quartet of in-wheel electric motors.
Mitsubishi hopes the MIEV could herald the future of a new kind of high-performance vehicle, with its outer-rotor motors distinguishing this Evo from other electric cars and allowing it to remain four-wheel drive.
Normal electric motors place the rotor (the turning part) inside the stator (the part that generates the power). In these motors the rotor surrounds the stator, leaving a hole in the middle that contains the brake discs and calipers. The more compact design allows the motors to be fitted to the front wheels, previously a problem because the motors would have fouled the steering gear, and raises outputs: each motor produces a massive 382lb ft and a rather less impressive 67bhp. The engine, transmission, axles, differentials and fuel tank are replaced by a lithium-ion battery pack and a pair of invertors, one for each pair of driven wheels.