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Mitsubishi to ship 70 more i-MiEVs to Oz

New era: One of the first shipment of 20 Mitsubishi i-MiEV customer cars rolls off the ship from Japan.

Australian SOS for more Mitsubishi EVs granted as pioneering first 20 arrive

5 Aug 2010

A PLEA by Mitsubishi Motors Australia Limited (MMAL) for more i-MiEVs to meet strong customer demand in Australia has been heeded by head office, with an extra 70 of the all-electric city cars destined for Australia before the end of the year.

The additional shipments – bringing the total 2010 i-MiEV allocation to 110 units – were announced by MMAL president and CEO Masahiko Takahashi at a ceremony today in Melbourne marking the arrival of the first 20 i-MiEV customer cars from Japan.

However, the extra deliveries will not satisfy the more than 300 applications for the vehicles received by the Adelaide-based distributor, which is also hoping for further deliveries in 2011 at the rate of 10 a month.

Representatives of the i-MiEV Foundation Group – the first 33 Australian companies and government organisations in line to receive i-MiEVs on three-year leases – were at a windswept Webb Dock to see the first i-MiEV driven off the NYK car carrier Orion Leader from Japan by Victorian premier John Brumby.

These customers will have to wait until late this month or early September for delivery of their new babies, which most are using to trial EV technologies with an eye to broader fleet application in future.

Once they hit the road, the i-MiEV will become the first mass-produced EV from a major manufacturer on Australia roads.

21 center imageFrom top: MMAL president Masahiko Takahashi and Victorian premier John Brumby welcome the first shipment of Mitsubishi i-MiEVs in Melbourne, Mitsubishi PX-MiEV concept and Mitsubishi i-MiEV Cargo.

Powered by 47kW electric motor, the four-seat i-MiEV has a range of up to 160km from its 16kWh lithium-ion battery pack which can be charged in seven hours from a 240-volt domestic electricity outlet.

Several of the i-MiEVs due in Australia this year are destined for state government trials in most states.

One batch will be assigned to the Victorian government’s five-year EV trial under which a total of 60 electric-powered vehicles from a range of manufacturers are destined to be shared by 180 volunteers drawn by ballot later this year.

The Victorian transport department has requested 10 i-MiEVs for the trial, but MMAL says the final number will depend on supply.

Mr Brumby described the Victorian EV program – announced in February – as one of the most comprehensive trials of electric vehicles in the world, testing new technologies in real-world conditions.

He said 76 companies – including organisations from the EV charging infrastructure, power, IT and motor industries – had made submissions to take part in the trial.

The list of successful applicants is set to be released in September before the first vehicles are rolled out to the volunteers who will be selected in a ballot by the Royal Automobile Club of Victoria (RACV) motoring organisation.

Mitsubishi’s initial i-MiEV lease customers will pay $1740 a month over three years, equating to a total $62,640, after which the cars will return to Mitsubishi.

Despite the cost, Mr Takahashi said it soon became clear that MMAL’s original allocation of 40 cars for 2010 would not be sufficient to satisfy demand.

“Over 300 private and company applications for vehicle have been received. It soon became clear that 40 vehicles were not going to be enough to satisfy our customers, so I am very pleased to announce that despite huge world-wide demand and initial limited capacity of our parent company to bring another 70 vehicles to Australia.

“These vehicles will arrive by the end of the year taking total of i-MiEV vehicles to 110.” Mr Takahashi said the second batch of 20 i-MiEVs would arrive from Japan within two weeks, and distribution would start either in late August or early September.

“All of the foundation members will receive their cars within one or two days,” he said.

Mr Takahashi told GoAuto that Mitsubishi’s first plug-in hybrid SUV based on the PX-MiEV concept was “more or less confirmed” for Australia after its goes into production in 2013.

He said that while the i-MiEV would be aimed at city commuters, the plug-in PX-MiEV vehicle would be better suited for longer distances.

“It is hybrid, but still a pure EV vehicle, though,” he said.

Mr Takahashi was less certain about the future of a mini delivery van based i-MiEV, the Cargo.

“We are still thinking what is the best shape for that,” he said. “It is not yet fully confirmed.”

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