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Mitsubishi and Subaru Electric Cars Go On Sale in Japan Next Month

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Mitsubishi i-MiEV electric car

Mitsubishi i-MiEV electric car

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Friday is World Environment Day, and Mitsubishi used the occasion to unveil the final production version of its i-MiEV electric car, which goes on sale in Japan in about six weeks.

The company expects to distribute about 1,400 Mitsubishi i-MiEV models to companies and municipal bodies through March 2010 on what it calls a "maintenance lease," meaning just the costs of taxes, insurance, and regular servicing.

Individual consumers will be able to place orders for the MiEV starting late next month, with deliveries to begin in April 2009. The price will be 3 million yen (roughly $31,000).

The 2010 Mitsubishi i-MiEV uses a 16-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery from Lithium Energy Japan, the company's joint venture with lithium cell maker GS Yuasa. It powers a 47-kilowatt electric motor powering the rear wheels through a single-speed transmission.

The four-seat, five-door hatchback is one of the first of a wave of highway-capable electric vehicles to be offered by major automakers. Its range is 100 miles on the Japanese driving cycle.

The name combines the "i" model name of the base vehicle--yep, it's just known as the Mitsubishi "i"--with the abbreviation for Mitsubishi innovative Electric Vehicle. In case you're wondering, it's pronounced "EYE-meeve".

A few i-MiEVs are being tested in California by utilities and other fleet users. The company has suggested that it might offer the next i-MiEV to US buyers.

Mitsubishi's announcement comes the same day as Subaru announced that it would also offer its four-door Plug-In Stella for sale in late July as well. The company only expects to sell about 170 Subaru Plug-In Stellas through next March, or 15 percent of the i-MiEV volume.

The Subaru Plug-In Stella uses a much smaller 9-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery, also driving a 47-kilowatt motor. Its range is roughly 50 miles.

Mitsubishi i-MiEV electric car at quick charging station

Mitsubishi i-MiEV electric car at quick charging station

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[Mitsubishi, Nikkei via AllCarsElectric]

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