Mitsubishi's new electric vehicle

Japanese power companies will test and evaluate its commercial viability.

Autocar Pro News DeskBy Autocar Pro News Desk calendar 14 Feb 2007 Views icon2406 Views Share - Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share to LinkedIn Share to Whatsapp
Mitsubishi's new electric vehicle
Mitsubishi Motors (MMC) has built a new research vehicle, the Mitsubishi innovative Electric Vehicle (MiEV) for a next-generation EV development project. The electric vehicle (EV) will be used for joint research programmes with power companies that have been working on the promotion of EVs. The power companies will conduct field tests, gather data and evaluate the commercial viability of the vehicle. MMC will provide power companies with EVs and analyse field test data collected by them.

The new research EV is based on MMC's "i" mini-car, and named “i MiEV". i MiEV is powered by a compact and lightweight motor and high-energy density lithium-ion batteries. After removing the i's combustion engine mounted on the platform with an original rear-midship layout, a single motor is mounted in its place. i MiEV became electric-powered with few modifications of the body structure. In addition to the joint research programmes, MMC will further improve the components of i MiEV such as the battery system, motor and EV electronic control unit for the future commercial application.

MMC will begin joint research with Tokyo Electric Power Company, and The Chugoku Electric Power Company in November 2006 and with Kyushu Electric Power Company in January 2007. MMC will provide each power company with i MiEVs. By testing i MiEV, the power companies will evaluate how the vehicle is applied to their business and how fast-charge infrastructure may be developed for EVs.

In the autumn of 2007, MMC will begin fleet testing in order to verify the vehicle's technical capabilities in daily use and to evaluate the commercial acceptance in collaboration with the power companies above along with, the Kansai Electric Power Company and Hokuriku Electric Power Company. MMC will provide the power companies with i MiEVs for the fleet tests. The data collected from the test of daily use shall be used to assess the commercial viability of EVs in the market place.

MMC takes environmental concerns seriously. Developing new environmental technologies and diversification of fuel sources are MMC's key challenges and the MiEV project is an approach to these. MMC is also working on other environmental technologies such as clean diesel engines and bio-fuel engines. On the social side, MMC launched a natural conservation project called the "Pajero Forest & Local Mountain Restoration Initiative", which supports conservation and management of Japan's forests. "MiEV" encompasses MMC's whole technological concept of lithium-ion battery, in-wheel motor and other technologies related to EV, hybrid electric vehicle and fuel cell vehicles.

The MiEV concept is developed from MMC's former concept "Mitsubishi In-wheel motor Electric Vehicle (MIEV)", referring to a lithium-ion battery/in-wheel motor-driven vehicle. MMC continues to develop in-wheel motor technology. In this system a single electric motor is coupled to a reduction gear and differential to drive both rear wheels.

i MiEV is the third EV of MMC's MiEV series. Based on the i minicar platform, i MiEV replaces the conventional engine and fuel tank with a lithium-ion battery system, motor, inverter and other EV components in the rear-midship layout. There are two main advantages of the rear-midship layout: increased cabin space and plenty of space for the EV power train. The layout enables the power-train to be placed in front of the rear axle line, which ensures ample cabin space for passengers (4-occupant capacity).

It also provides ample space for battery storage, which could achieve the desired daily driving range of a number of customers. An on-board charger allows the vehicle to be charged from ordinary electric outlets. In addition to the high practical values, i MiEV displays higher performance levels than the base model in some categories. For example, i MiEV shows stronger torque, quieter noise and less vibration, which are natural advantages of EVs.
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