MITSUBISHI HAS LAUNCHED the all-electric i MiEV in Japan this week, with corporate and government fleet buyers the first customers. Private buyers will have to wait until April 2010 before they can snap one up for themselves.
Priced at just over 4,599,000 yen ($58,000) - $15,000 more than than the $43,000 starting price last reported - the i MiEV is a pricey prospect for Japanese buyers of the all-electric vehicle.
In the i MiEV's favour however, is the fact that the Subaru Plug-In Stella - now also on sale in Japan - starts at just over $60,000.
The i MiEV utilises the platform of the existing Japan-only Mitsubishi i, but rather than a regular petrol engine and traditional transmission, is motivated by a 330 volt lithium-ion battery and electric motor.
The motor is good for 47kW and 180Nm of torque - available immediately, rather than at a particular point in the rev range, as with a regular combustion engine.
While the i MiEV is expected to debut in Europe and the US next year, Mitsubishi Australia is waiting on approval from the company's Japan headquarters to offer the car in Australia.
With Australian Design Rules compliance achieved, however, Mitsubishi Australia is hopeful of a 2010 debut in Aussie showrooms.