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Mitsubishi delays i-MiEV until mid 2010

Short circuit: The Mitsubishi i-MiEV is now due in Australia in mid 2010.

First mass-made EV put back due to global demand and lack of infrastructure

14 Dec 2009

THE much-anticipated first electric vehicle (EV) from a mass-manufacturer to arrive in Australia, the Mitsubishi i-MiEV, has been delayed again.

Originally, the i-MiEV was intended for a late 2009 release, then pushed into the first quarter 2010, but is now expected mid-year in production volume.

The reason for delay, according to Mitsubishi Motors Australia Ltd president and CEO Robert McEniry, is high global demand and a decision by Mitsubishi Japan to give priority to countries more active with EV infrastructure development than Australia.

Despite the delay, Mitsubishi will have a sweetener in two cars arriving in the first quarter of 2010, which Mitsubishi plans to use for more extensive evaluation than the iMiEV that went on a roadshow around Australian capital cities last year.

“Last time we did it, they weren’t long-time evaluations,” Mr McEniry said. “We had a controlled drive programme and we had to send the car back.

“These two cars will be Australian certified cars that will eventually be sold here. Even the first lot of production cars that we’ll get for retail, we may do the same thing - the demand for evaluation may be so high that we may be forced to say ‘okay the first two months production, we’ll also put into evaluation'.”

Mr McEniry said the media and other interested parties would be given an i-MiEV to drive for a couple of weeks “to see what it’s like to live with”.

Then the cars due to go to customers would arrive, but not in big numbers.

“Monthly, we’ll be lucky to get five or ten initially,” he said.

Mr McEniry said potential customers were interested in buying the i-MiEV for around the same price as a Prius or slightly more, so that would be the price that Mitsubishi would target. After a while, Mr McEniry said price “will be significantly lower than that”.

“It’ll be a little more palatable by then, and it’ll be a little more palatable again as time goes on,” he said.

“The problem is the batteries – they can’t get enough, and the price of batteries is so high now. But that’s starting to come down.”

Mr McEniry hosed down speculation that the Citroen C-Zero or Peugeot Ion EVs, which are rebranded i-MiEVs, were to be sold here.

“They may not be [restrictions on selling the Mitsubishi- based C-Zero and Ion here] longer term, but Mitsubishi Motor Corporation is not going to say ‘We’ll send some down to an independent distributor’.”

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