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Next Mitsubishi Evo to use EV tech

Evolving Evolution: Mitsubishi global president Osamu Masuko says EVs such as the i-MiEV Evolution have advantages over petrol cars at altitude.

Mitsubishi using electric Pikes Peak racer to develop technology for next Lancer Evo

Mitsubishi logo23 Oct 2012

By HAITHAM RAZAGUI

THE next Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution rally racer for the road looks increasingly likely to have some form of electrified powertrain – and the Japanese company is using its Pikes Peak racing efforts to develop the technology.

Asked about what the next Evo would be like, Mitsubishi Motors global president Osamu Masuko launched into a speech at the Sydney motor show about the technology being developed to conquer the legendary Pikes Peak race in Colorado.

“We are considering the Evolution to address environmental issues and we are committed to winning the race next year,” he said.

Mitsubishi’s i-MiEV Evolution racer, driven by two-time Dakar Rally winner Hiroshi Masuoka, took second place in the Pikes Peak EV class this year behind Toyota’s Radical-based EV P002.

Mr Masuko said Mitsubishi’s aim is to take the overall Pikes Peak win, not just for electric cars, pointing out that the fastest EVs are now just a minute slower than petrol vehicles on the famous hillclimb and have advantages at high altitude, where the thinner air hampers internal combustion engines.

“That is one minute out of 11 minutes, so less than 10 per cent we have to achieve. That is something our technology can contain... electric motors do not get worse performance due to the air and this year’s experience tells us that we can overcome the one-minute difference.”

Mitsubishi toyed with an electric Evo MiEV in 2005, using four independent 50kW in-wheel motors and a lithium-ion battery pack taking up the space vacated by the all-wheel-drive system to provide a 180km/h top speed and 250km cruising range.

One of the cars that took part in the ‘race to the clouds’, off-road racer Beccy Gordon’s road-legal i-MiEV that came sixth in the EV class with a time of more than 15 minutes, is on Mitsubishi’s stand at the Sydney show.

Mr Masuko said Mitsubishi entered Pikes Peak with electric vehicles to “identify what is the limitation of an EV and also how we drive the EV technology in future”.

“We wanted to really challenge the very tough environment with this technology.

“Pikes Peak has a long history of 90 years and this year was the first year we have participated. So we are trying to change the 90 years of history using two years of attempts.”

At the 2010 Paris motor show, Mitsubishi accidentally revealed a graph of timelines for various electric models, of which one was a Lancer.

A company spokesman at that time denied the car was in development and its presence on the timeline pointed to development of the Evo MiEV’s in-wheel electric motor technology that “is on the backburner”.

Many carmakers are moving away from in-wheel motors for electric cars as they add unwelcome unsprung mass that affects ride, handling and steering.

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