PHOTO CAPTION: Monaco's Prince Albert views Mitsubishi i MiEV electric car.

Electric Cars: Choice of the Next Generation

Telegraph Motoring tests three of the latest electric cars: Mitsubishi's battery i MiEV, Honda’s Insight hybrid and General Motors’ HydroGen4

Published: 02-Feb-2009

ong>Mitsubishi i MiEV
Long ago, in a different life, I was a milkman for the Co-operative Dairy. It meant getting up very early and as we loaded our floats, my older colleagues would recall chasing bad-tempered ponies over the South Downs in the dark to harness to their floats. Fortunately for me, my Smiths Cabac milk float had a lead-acid heart that didn’t require sugar lumps to persuade it to work. The 48-volt battery pack would propel my float at 20mph across the Newhaven Marshes and then, six hours and maybe 30 miles later, back at less than walking pace.

And the basic premise of pure battery powered vehicles hasn’t changed much since then, really; battery, motor and a frame to house it all. You could say that Mitsubishi’s i MiEV (pronounced “I Meev”) hasn’t moved the game at all, except it looks so damned sexy and it carries four people instead of milk crates. Mitsubishi also made me get up very early to drive it, so I felt quite at home.

The i is, however, the state of the art as far as batteries are concerned, with a 16kWh, 330-volt, 441lb (200kg) 88-cell lithium-ion battery pack under the floor. The cell is the result of a collaboration between battery manufacturer G?S Yuasa and Mitsubishi and it powers a 47kW/133lb ft (continuous) output electric motor that is mounted in the rear and powers the rear wheels.

Mitsubishi claims it has been studying electric power since 1995 (but then so have most car makers). It cites the 2005 EVO electric, with its four in-wheel electric motors, as evidence. Actually the company has done far more practical in-wheel motor concepts, but has never quite made the leap between great idea and production. The i has given it the chance to do so. Launched in the UK last summer in petrol form, the i has proved a popular if expensive sell-out. The electric version goes into production in Japan this year in a limited run of 2,000, with the plan of producing 10,000 in 2010 and double that in 2012. The UK wants to take 200 of the first batch this year, but the timing couldn’t be worse, with the Sterling/Yen relationship meaning that each i MiEV would cost the equivalent of £47,500. Instead the UK importer is considering a leasing option at between £750 and £1,000 a month. Pricey still, but the company also claims the i will cost just 45p per 100 miles to run.


Hero Motors Ultra Maxi uses a 250 watt motor to avoid falling into category that would require license fees, road taxes and registration.

The scooters currently come in two models, 1000 and 1500 watts, and retail for NZ$2200 and NZ$2400 including GST. Photo courtesy of Scoop.

Piaggio Porter pictured at right has electric driving range of 7-120 km with a top speed of 60 km/hr.


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