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Mitsubishi calls for EV support

Current concept: The Mitsubishi i-MiEV is set for Australian launch next year.

Imported electric cars should get government support, says Mitsubishi boss

2 Mar 2009

MITSUBISHI has not yet applied to the Federal Government for a slice of its Green Car Innovation Fund to assist bringing its i-MiEV electric car to market, but believes that such support would be appropriate.

The Adelaide-based importer told GoAuto it needs government assistance and is seeking rare GST concessions to encourage people to buy electric cars as it prepares to launch the i-MiEV in Australia in 2010.

Speaking after the car’s local debut at the Melbourne motor show on Friday, Mitsubishi Motors Australia Ltd president and CEO Robert McEniry said it would be “a great opportunity for the government to take a leadership position with what is truly green”.

“We’ll certainly be talking to the (federal and state) governments about the car,” said Mr McEniry.

“Since we first indicated we would be bringing the car in for trial, we’ve had enormous reaction from private customers, fleet customers, government departments, etc.

“I think there’s an opportunity for the government to show green credentials through (the Green Car) Fund for vehicles like this. It will become a part of city or urban transport, as a very viable alternative.

21 center imageLeft: MMAL president and CEO Robert McEniry, and (below) the i-MiEV.

“If you look at what’s happened in trials overseas, the Japanese and US governments are directly helping manufacturers bringing these vehicles to market, whether they’re imported or not, because it is a key initiative for the future in green technology.

“In other countries, governments are participating directly to assist in the process. We’ve still got to work through a lot of the infrastructure elements but they’re not insurmountable.” Mr McEniry also said MMAL was working with the Department of Transport and Regional Services to ensure a smooth passage into Australia of the new electric car technology.

After being displayed at the Melbourne show, the i-MiEV will stay in Australia until the end of April for trials in Melbourne, Sydney, Canberra and Adelaide that will assist MMAL with a feasibility study on bringing the car to Australia, possibly as the first EV to be sold here.

Feasibility studies are also being done in the UK, New Zealand, the US, Canada, Europe and Iceland.

The i-MiEV will go on sale within months in Japan – where production this year has been set at 2000 before expanding to 10,000 next year – but Mr McEniry would not discuss possible pricing for Australia.

He said there would be a much greater awareness of electric vehicles in Australia in future as more stringent CO2 emissions regulations were introduced here, and that people would realise the i-MiEV was a stunning car when they drove it.

While conceding that sales of the car might be limited by its size, Mr McEniry said the i-MiEV was a “true four-seater”, with no interior intrusion by the battery.

Mitsubishi claims the i-MiEV has a range of about 160km and takes about seven hours to recharge its lithium-ion battery pack, but Mr McEniry said potential buyers were used to recharging appliances like laptops, iPods and mobile phones overnight.

“The feasibility study will start fairly shortly,” said Mr McEniry.

“Once we’ve been around and evaluated and got feedback from the main parties that are involved – energy partners, government, the public in particular, fleets – then we’ll sit down and work out what the next steps are.

“Based on that, in a reasonable timeline, we should be in a position later this year to determine what our next steps should be for an introduction.

“We’re going to see an increase of electric vehicles over the next couple of years from the other manufacturers (but) they’re still a fair way off being able to manufacture one.

“As Mitsubishi goes into volume production stage one this year, and then stage two next year, vehicles will become more available around the world.” The i-MiEV electric motor produces 47kW of power and 180Nm of torque and drives the rear wheels. It has a claimed top speed of 130km/h.

Read more:

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Japanese makers add spark to electric buzz

Mitsubishi electricar closer

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Mitsu keeps eye on i

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Mitsubishi to extend Ralliart reach

Electric i-car hope

Mitsu i-car still on horizon

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