THE ALL-ELECTRIC VERSION of the Mitsubishi ?i? kei car, the i-MIEV, is nearing its July release onto the Japanese market, with prices set to begin at AU$43,000 ? nearly twice the price of the petrol/electric hybrid Honda Insight which starts at about AU$26,000 in Japan.
Developing 47kW and 180Nm of torque from its lithium-ion battery powered motor, the i-MIEV is good for a range of around 160km; more than enough for most suburban commuters.
Best of all, for the environmentally-conscious, the i-MIEV produces 70 percent less CO2 emissions than its petrol-powered peers.
As for the question of when we?ll see the diminutive Mitsubishi making its way around Aussie cities, Mitsubishi Motors Australia?s Lenore Fletcher told TMR that despite the i-MIEV?s recent Australian Design Rules approval and full compliance, the company is awaiting approval from head office in Japan.
When asked about feedback from the Australian market, Fletcher said that the recent trials on Australian roads saw many private buyers and companies contact the company, eager to place orders despite the uncertainty of local pricing.
On the topic of pricing, Fletcher pointed to the fact that in Europe and the US, certain all-electric vehicle costs have been offset by government funding and partnerships with energy companies, and similar arrangements may be made in Australia.
Despite the expected price difference between the i-MIEV and its petrol-electric hybrid counterparts, "Mitsubishi Australia is anticipating a successful introduction into the Australian market," Ms Fletcher said.
For its first year, the i-MIEV will be limited to just 2000 units ? plenty for the Japanese market, but too few to spare any for Australia or the rest of the world.
However, 2010 should see a further 5000 i-MIEVs hit the road, with the company expecting to produce 30,000 each year by 2015. More than enough for eager enviro-minded Aussie buyers.