Last year Mitsubishi brought us the electric Evo. This year we've got the electric i-Car. An electric city car isn't quite as exciting as an electric Evo, but it's all in the name of progress.
Where the old Evo MiEV, or Mitsubishi innovative Electric Vehicle, used motors contained within the wheel, the i-Car MiEV uses one single motor in place of the engine. Mitsubishi removed the rear-mounted engine from its Japanese-market i-Car, and installed an electric motor, plus lithium-ion batteries. Obviously there's a bit more to it than that, but Mitsubshi said the i-Car needed few body modifications.
As with the electric Evo, the i-Car MiEV is a test vehicle. This time, however, Mitsubishi will be collaborating on research with various Japanese power companies, which will run fleets of iCar MiEVs.
The aim is to find out not just the vehicle's technical capabilities from everyday use, but also to assess its costs as a fleet vehicle, and how a charging infrastructure could be developed. One of the big problems with electric city cars is the lack of provision for charging on the street – something power companies will be able to change far more easily than car makers.
If the tests are successful, Mitsubishi could achieve its aim of selling an electric car by 2010. It is also still developing the in-wheel electric motors used in the Evo MiEV.