UK importer is pushing hard to bring the battery powered city car to Britain
22 November 2007

Mitsubishi UK is aiming to put the i-MiEV, the Japanese brand’s new electric city car, on sale in Britain in 2009. The battery powered four-door, which is capable of covering 10,000 miles on £50-worth of electricity, is going into production in Japan in 2009, and the firm’s British importer is currently lobbying hard to add the car to its UK product portfolio as early as possible.The i-MiEV - seen in prototype form only so far - is based on the rear-engined Mitsubishi i city car that’s already on sale here and has been well received as a rival to the Smart. The electric version would be the first real-world electric car on the market, offering a very different proposition to the likes of the Riva G-Wiz, not least because it will meet European safety and crash test requirements.

Why would I want one?

If Mitsubishi can deliver on its promises, the advantages of the production i-MiEV for urbanites seem numerous. The car can be fully charged in five hours from a mains supply, and has an impressive 100-mile range. Mitsubishi says it’ll keep up with our traffic too, with its 85mph top speed.The only thing that could delay the car’s arrival is the slow technological progress of the lithium-ion batteries needed to store its electricity, although tests carried out in Britain using the prototype have been successful.

So how much would it cost?

Mitsubishi UK has set a target of £15,000 and says the i-MiEV will cost an absolute maximum of £20k. The British arm of the company wants the government to offer tax breaks on import duty for environmentally friendly vehicles like the i-MiEV - a long shot, but it could lower what would otherwise be a very steep price for such a small car.In response, Mitsubishi says the i-MiEV’s huge fuel savings will offset the initial outlay to buy the costly technology. After all, a £50 outlay to cover 10,000 miles is almost unheard of; even the very frugal petrol-powered i costs about £900 in fuel to cover an equivalent mileage.

Will Powell

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