Mitsubishi is one of those smaller automakers, like Subaru, that one should make sure not to overlook when shopping for a new car. Why? Because, they're good.

Here's an example of formidable new technologies emerging from the research and development depths of a nimble little player in the big bad world of building cars. The i MiEV series (innovative Mitsubishi Electric Vehicle) is a compact vehicle line being developed by Mitsubishi.

Though still at the concept stage, this latest i MiEV features the same multiple, in-wheel electric motors seen in earlier concepts in the series, which is one of the most efficient ways to use electricity to power a vehicle. But since this car is slated to go to market in Europe next year, this is likely very close to what the production version will look like.

This i MiEV will probably have a similar layout to the previously seen i MiEV Sport concept, with two in-wheel electric motors at the front and one on the rear axle. The motors will be plugged into a lithium-ion battery pack tucked in the wheelbase, giving the vehicle a low center of gravity while keeping the weight balanced.

That previous i MiEV Sport concept came with a 200 km (125 miles) range and a top speed of 180 km/h (112 mph), which means that Mitsubishi is pushing the technology to the boundaries of marketable, real-world applicability.

And Mitsubishi already have a customer lined up. PSA Peugeot Citroen Group have a contract with the Japanese automaker to supply them with as many as 10,000 units per year of the i MiEV by 2011.

The prototype i MiEV concept will debut at the Geneva Motor Show next month next to the i MiEV Sport Air Concept.


Gallery: Mitsubishi to Show Prototype i MiEV Concept at Geneva

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