Mitsubishi’s i MiEV in U.S. Later This Year

i MiEVs for Japanese UtilitiesMitsubishi announced that it has partnered with Pacific Gas and Electric to test the new all-electric i MiEV in California at the end of 2008. The utility company will test the four-passenger cars in the “real world,” and gauge the impact charging a fleet of EVs will have on the grid.

Similar testing with seven electric utility companies in Japan went so well that the company stepped up its EV program and will offer the i MiEV in Japan next summer. Global sales expectations for the car are so high that Mitsubishi has plans to build a lithium-ion battery factory that will open in April 2009. The plant will produce enough batteries to equip 10,000 vehicles.

The i MiEV is based on the Japanese-market i-series mini car, but its 47-kW motor is said to have better acceleration and performance than the 64-hp engine in the gasoline-powered version. Though a quick conversion shows 47 kW to be equal to 64 hp, electric motors have 100% torque available as soon as you press the throttle, making it seem quicker.

Keep an eye on PG&E and Mitsubishi to see how these cars play with California traffic and how soon they might reach U.S. consumers.

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