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PHOTO CAPTION: Consortium members with concept drawing of potential electric car designs.

Japanese Consortium Formed Around SIM-Drive

Prototype SIM-Drive electric car slates for 2011 debut.

Published: 27-Jan-2010

If you're Mitsubishi or Isuzu and you're looking into the murky future of automotive powertrains, it will be obvious that not only is the future in motion electric, but it's also no longer hidebound to conversions of existing IC engine platforms.

That might explain their participation, along with 32 other Japanese companies and municipalities that are forming a consortium around the pioneering work of Professor Hiroshi Shimizu of Keio University.

The hallmark of Shimizu's efforts is his in-wheel electric motor technology that enables designers to complete rethink the layout and structure of future automobiles, as illustrated by the three concept drawings being held up by consortium members (Professor Shimizu is the man in the middle).

The aim of the SIM-Drive (Shimizu In-Wheel Motor-Drive) consortium is to develop mass-marketable electric car prototypes for license to other manufacturers. Future vehicles can be two, four or even -- as in the case of the Ellican -- eight-wheel powered. Batteries, controllers and other subsystems would be embedded in a hollow floor pan, opening up room for cabin rearrangements or even more compact vehicles.

The consortium is aiming to have its first prototype completed by 2011, with commercialization set for 2013, around the same time VW has announced it plans to launch its own electric car, the Up!

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