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Monday, March 30, 2009
Mitsubishi i MiEV Test Drive
Image: © 2009 theirEarth.com

Road Test Of The Mitsubushi 'i MiEV' Electric Car

CAP MARTIN, FRANCE - Mitsubishi Motors brought their prototype 'i MiEV' to Southern France for test drives last week, and we used the opportunity to test the new Mitsubishi's performance on both the flats and the steep hills of Cap Martin, France and on the roads of Monaco. The i MiEV is a revolutionary electric car because of its pure-driving road feel that is similar in comparison to combustion engine vehicles. Mitsubishi will start selling the right-hand drive i MiEV in Japan at the end of this year, and also begin sales to the United Kingdom in late 2009 - early 2010. Mitsubishi says that left-hand drive i MiEV's will be available for sale in other international markets by mid to late 2010.

The theirEarth Motoring test drivers were very impressed with the i MiEV's acceleration, handling, and overall high quality finish. Inside the i MiEV, the cabin is roomy with plenty of leg room for rear seat passengers. The Mitsubishi i MiEV has a top speed of 130 km/h (81.3 mph), and it is powered by a permanent magnet synchronous electric motor with a maximum power output of 47 kW, and a maximum torque of 180 Nm. The i MiEV is a rear-wheel drive vehicle and gets its power from a 330V lithium-ion battery pack with a total energy storage capacity of 16kWh. The new Mitsubishi is also a very light-weight vehicle for a 4-seat electric car that has a battery pack and it weighs just 1,080 kg or 2376 lbs.

Driving the i MiEV is amazingly like driving any other car. It has a very low noise cabin and the driver can set the power mode to the type of driving conditions desired. In "Drive", the MiEV has 47 kW of maximum power available and the car operates at its highest performance level in this mode, climbing hills with brisk acceleration. In "Eco", the power runs at a maximum 18 kWh, which gives maximum battery range, and for emergency needs, the driver can put their foot to the floor and get an available 32 kWh on demand boost.  There is also a steep descent "Brake" setting which gives optimized regenerative braking charging during continuous down-hill conditions.

One of the advantages for Mitsubishi in their new i MiEV has been that they started with a proven chassis used already in a Japan and sold as a 660 cc turbo combustion engine i-class version. The new i MiEV uses high energy density lithium-ion batteries and the battery pack has 22 battery modules, with each module comprising 4 cells. The battery pack is manufactured in a joint venture between GS Yuasa Corporation and Mitsubishi in a combined company called "Lithium Energy Japan".

The i MiEV's battery pack is mounted below the passenger cabin floor and its single electric motor and inverter are mounted behind the battery pack just in front of the rear axle. Mitsubishi says the i MiEV is designed to have a range of 160 km (per the Japan 10-15 mode test). This photograph of the new i MiEV was taken in front of the fountains of the Monte-Carlo Bay Hotel in Monaco.

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