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Make Way for Mitsubishi’s EcoCar

With sales to start in Japan in July, Mitsubishi Motors announced this month that its entry in the electric car market—a contraption called the i-MiEV (for Mitsubishi innovative Electric Vehicle)—goes on sale in America next April. The Tokyo, Japan-based company released the statement on United Nations’ World Environment Day.

Mitsubishi claims that the i-MiEV is a response to what the company describes as worldwide problems based on pollution, climate change and what Mitsubishi calls “the depletion of petroleum-based energy supplies.” The eco-car—one of many expected to flood the market in the wake of environmentalist regulations—is Mitsubishi's pure battery-operated electric vehicle.

The undersized, four-passenger i-MiEV includes a permanent magnet synchronous motor and a proprietary lithium-ion battery pack that can be quick-charged up to 80 percent of capacity. The battery pack consists of 22 modules, each consisting of four cells that can be installed under the car’s floor. Other components are stored under the seats and in an area Mitsubishi calls a “luggage compartment.” An onboard charger accepts 110V (12-14 hour full-charge time) or 220V in half that time. An i-MiEV video presentation is available at www.mitsubishicars.com.

The car was previewed in Oregon earlier this year in celebration of Earth Day. This is because the car is, like future cars made by General Motors and Chrysler, the result of government intervention in the automotive industry: the i-MiEV is part of a government program in Oregon in collusion with the state's electricity monopoly, Portland General Electric (PGE). So it was fitting that Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski, an environmentalist who recently announced that he will raise the state’s taxes, took a test drive of the government-sponsored vehicle in the presence of his collaborators, PGE chief Jim Piro and Mitsubishi Motors North America executive John Koenig.

Oregon’s government is planning to institute a government-controlled cartel of charging stations for the state-sponsored electric vehicles.

Mitsubishi's experience with cars and electronics supports its ability to make electric cars, with the government all but forcing manufacturers to abandon the non-electric cars currently in demand. Its ominously named i-MiEV has been tested by other quasi-state run utilities, Pacific Gas and Electric and Southern California Edison.

According to Mitsubishi Motors North America President and CEO Shinichi Kurihara: “We believe the i-MiEV delivers on the promise of sustainability, suitable range, performance, and innovative packaging and styling.” Mitsubishi Motors Corporation sells coupes, convertibles, sedans, Sport Utility Vehicles (SUVs) and light trucks through more than 400 dealers.

[Source: Mitsubishi Motors]

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