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Mitsubishi says i-MiEV still alive

Short circuit: Mitsubishi’s i-MiEV is struggling, but the company says it will continue to offer it in Australia.

81 electric i-MiEVs registered in December as Mitsubishi pushes EV out to network

Mitsubishi logo25 Jan 2013

By RON HAMMERTON

MITSUBISHI Motors Australia Ltd (MMAL) has fired back at a report that it has dropped the i-MiEV electric city car from its line-up, saying it has no plans to do so.

More than 80 of the slow-selling all-electric runabouts were registered in December as the company pushed them into dealerships across the country.

Just 14 of the cars had been registered in the previous 11 months of 2012, and only three the previous December.

Mitsubishi acknowledges sales of the pioneering electric car – the first mass-produced EV on the Australian market – have been slow, and that future deliveries will be made only on customer order.

Stung by a Fairfax Media report that indicated the model had been dropped, Mitsubishi issued a media statement saying it had no plans to do so and that it was expanding its i-MiEV dealership network from the previous nine specialist outlets to much larger number.

MMAL CEO Mutsuhiro Oshikiri was quoted as saying: “We have been implementing an expansion plan to increase electric vehicles and PHEV sales in Australia by making them more widely available.”

 center imageLeft: Mitsubishi Motors Australia Limited president and CEO Mutsuhiro Oshikiri.

The statement said i-MiEV was opened up to the Mitsubishi dealer network in December, with 70 dealerships ordering 81 i-MiEVs.

As official VFACTS figures showed, all 81 cars were immediately registered the same month, taking overall i-MiEV registrations for 2012 to 95 units.

In 2011, Mitsubishi shifted just 30 i-MiEVs, which was well down on the 112 registered in 2010, its first year on the Australian market.

All but two of the vehicles registered in 2010 went to so-called Foundation Customers – mostly corporations and government departments looking to trial an electric vehicle.

Mr Oshikiri said Mitsubishi believes the future of electric vehicles is bright.

“We are proud to offer Australians the opportunity to purchase their own EV and make the choice towards a greener future,” he said.

“We are looking towards the future and getting ready for our next step in electric vehicle technology, the PHEV (plug-in hybrid electric vehicle).”

Mitsubishi’s world-first Outlander PHEV SUV is set to be launched in Australia in mid-2013.

The i-MiEV’s plight is compounded by its price, which at $48,800 (plus on-road costs) is four times that of of Mitsubishi’s new light hatchback, the Mirage (starting at $12,990).

i-MiEV uses a 16kW/hour battery pack and 49kW/180Nm electric motor to drive its rear wheels to a governed top speed of 130km/h and a range of about 100km.

Rival Nissan’s cheaper but larger Leaf ($46,990) achieved 77 registrations last year, bringing its tally since launch in Australia to 96 units.

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