We have the full details on the Mitsubishi i-MiEV inside, but is the car too expensive for mass production?

Mitsubishi has released extensive details about the upcoming Mitsubishi i-MiEV.  Select customers will be able to take delivery of the car on lease as soon as July, ten months before the car officially hits the market.

The Japanese automaker specifically released the car today to mark the United Nations' World Environment Day, pointing out that the i-MiEV is responsible for two-thirds less CO2 emissions versus the petrol-using Mitsubishi i.  These emissions come from the powerplants that ultimately supply the i-MiEV with fuel, but it is not clear what type of plant Mitsubishi is referring to.

Although lower emissions if very much the trend these days, Mitsubishi faces an uphill battle with this vehicle.  Japanese consumers are likely to suffer sticker shock when they see the tax inclusive price of ¥4,599,000 ($47,544).  Potential new customers will most certainly weigh their needs when they see the cost.

The tiny electric car has a lithium-ion battery center-mounted under the floor, with power being sent to a unit mounted in the boot.  Mitsubishi claims a range of 160 km (100 miles) when the car is driven under normal urban conditions.  The battery can be recharged to 80 percent capacity in about half an hour when using a 200 V, 50 kW three-phase power source.  Using standard outlets, the car goes from empty to fully-charged in either seven or 14 hours, depending on the voltage used.  Regenerative braking also helps to recharge the battery pack.

Ultimately, the driver gets a motor rated at 47kW, with 180 Nm of torque available almost immediately.  Mitsubishi did not release figures related to either the car's acceleration, top speed, or quarter-mile times.  We do know that the driver will have three different drive modes to choose from, including "maximum fun," "maximum economy," and "maximum regenerative."

Inside, the driver will be fed data through an instrument cluster with a few meters we would expect to see on an electric-powered vehicle.  Along with power consumption and energy recovery information, the driver is also given information about range, and remaining power.  This system is powered by a computer operating system developed specifically for this car.  An optional, multimedia system running off a solid-state hard drive is also available.

Colors available on the car include White Solid, Cool Silver Metallic, and Raspberry Red Pearl.  Customers can also buy the car in one of five two-tone color setups, including Red Solid & White Solid, Cool Silver & White Solid, White Pearl & Ocean Blue Metallic, White Pearl & Mint Green, and Cool Silver & Black Mica.

Headlamps are fully LED, as is the rear lighting clusters. 

The initial 1,400 units will be handed over to various corporations and government bodies over the summer.  Sales of the Mitsubishi i-MiEV will begin in April 2010.

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