Kuala Lumpur, 1 December 2008 – Mitsubishi Motors Malaysia (MMM). The local distributors for the Mitsubishi brand, is going ‘electric’ by showcasing the MIEV (Mitsubishi Innovative Electric Vehicle) at the IPTC (International Petroleum Technology Conference to spread awareness of the viability and practicality of electric vehicles. Electric cars are not a new idea, but with the advent of more compact batteries, it is fast becoming a practical alternative vehicle, especially for urban applications.
From 3rd to 5th December, (Wednesday to Friday), visitors to the IPTC at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre will be able to see the MIEV and exhibits by other exhibitors. The IPTC is mooted as one of the world’s foremost technical conferences for the energy industry. The theme for this conference is “Meeting the Energy Needs of a Growing World Economy.” The IPTC centres its conference on the areas of energy conservation, climate change and alternative energy.
The MIEV is already undergoing tests in Japan with several Japanese electrical power companies. Other promotional and fleet test activities are planned to be held in several European countries, as well as in the United States and New Zealand.
The MIEV is based on the Mitsubishi ‘i’ gasoline-powered minicar. With a rear-engine layout, the ‘i’ is the ideal candidate as the host to carry the MIEV’s lithium-ion battery system, motor and inverter. The 660 cc turbocharged engine is replaced by a permanent magnet motor, while the battery packs are located under the floor and where the petrol tank used to be. This helps to achieve a lower centre of gravity, thus making the vehicle more stable while still providing space for four adults plus a small amount of luggage.
The battery pack is a 330-volt system that powers a permanent magnet motor; charging time is 7 hours using household current, and this gives the MIEV a range of 160 kilometres (based on Japanese driving conditions) and a top speed of 130 kilometres per hour. According to comparative figures (also based on Japanese energy costs), the MIEV costs only a third of what it costs to run a comparable 660 cc gasoline powered car.
The electric motor generates a high amount of torque almost instantaneously, and accelerates 31 percent faster than a gasoline powered car in the 40 to 60 kilometre per hour range. Weight is increased by about 180 kg, and the MIEV weighs a total of 1050 kg.
At a special preview for the media held today in Petaling Jaya, we checked out the MIEV and the original 660 cc ‘i’ car, and found the MIEV to be very silent in operation, and the acceleration certainly is much faster than that of the gasoline-powered version.
Price, though, is going to be an issue; in a special interview with the Mitsubishi Japan team that flew out here to show off the MIEV, we are told that the estimated cost of the MIEV when it goes into mass production will be Yen 4.0 million. That brings the cost to well over RM130k before duties, and that is a real dampener.
The MIEV would be a perfect runabout for people working in the cities; it is pollution –free, and would be more cost efficient, but it looks like we will need some intervention from the powers that be, in the form of incentives in import duties and or other incentives to make the MIEV a reality.