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More i-MiEVs on the way

By the boatload: Mitsubishi Australia needs to secure more i-MiEV shipments to satisfy demand.

Mitsubishi Oz to lobby parent company for more i-MiEVs this year and next

26 Jul 2010

AUSTRALIAN Mitsubishi executives will again put their case to head office in Japan next week for more shipments of the brand’s ground-breaking i-MiEV electric vehicle.

Mitsubishi Motors Australia Limited last week named the first 33 ‘Foundation Group’ members to sign up for a three-year lease plan for the iMiEV, which attracted about 110 lease applications – including a request for 15 vehicles from one company.

With just 40 examples of the i-MiEV confirmed to arrive here from later this month, Mitsubishi hopes to satisfy initial demand by securing a further 70 cars this year, before requesting a more regular supply of about 10 i-MiEVs a month from next year.

“We’re up there again next week to discuss a number of issues around product and availability and that’s one of the things we’d like to nail down – when will we get the rest of them (iMiEVs),” MMAL vice-president of sales Anthony Case told GoAuto.

“We’ll be asking for another 70 this year to satisfy the shortfall for the Foundation customers.” Mitsubishi has consistently said that global demand exceeds production capacity for the i-MiEV, which will this month become the first EV to be released (albeit in limited numbers) in Australia before global production ramps up in Japan later this year.

“We’re hoping to get some sort of feel for future volumes next week,” said Mr Case.

“It would be nice to get 10 a month. (But) The reality is the issue is really battery production capacity.

“They’re building another plant, so next year capacity expands again. We’ll get a little bit of that but the reality is that will allow them to take i-MiEV to the rest of the world – including key markets like Europe and the US.”

21 center imageMr Case said strictly limited global supply will see the i-MiEV remain a lease-only vehicle until at least the end of next year.

Mitsubishi announced a unique lease arrangement for the i-MiEV in June. It will lease the battery-powered four-seater compact to successful applicants for $1740 a month over a three-year term – equating to a total price of $62,640 - after which the cars will return to Mitsubishi’s Australian distributor.

No retail purchase price for the i-MiEV has yet been set, but initial estimates remain at around $70,000 until Mitsubishi improves its economy of scale by ramping up production.

Having achieved its goal of beating Nissan’s 2012 to become the first mass-market brand to release an EV in Australia, Mitsubishi says Foundation Group strategy aims to establish support for EVs and EV recharging infrastructure from governments at all levels in Australia.

“Because we were so short of cars the foundation program was established really to say to customers ‘come and apply and tell us how us giving you cars is going to aid the promotion of EVs or EV infrastructure in Australia,” said Mr Case.

“That’s what it’s about – we’re really driving the governments to say ‘you guys need to help us because we need fast-charge stations, we need changes to government regulations that mean if you build new sub-divisions and you want them to be green then you have to have 15-amp outlets in the houses because that’s what all these cars are going to be charging off, so that’s what this attempts to drive.

“Some of the state government interest was a little lacklustre until the Victorian government announced they would do this green project in which all the houses would have a five-star energy rating with water-saving and solar power solutions.

“EVs were to be a part of that and as soon as the Victorian government announced it the NSW government thought they had better be involved too and now basically everyone’s involved apart from the Tasmanians,” he said.

As GoAuto has reported, three federal government departments will drive the i-MiEV, along with the NSW, Queensland, South Australian and Victorian governments, and the Adelaide, Marion (south Adelaide), Brisbane, Gold Coast and Sydney councils.

The NSW NRMA and South Australian RAA motoring groups were also named as successful i-MiEV lease applicants, along with electric infrastructure suppliers Better Place and ChargePoint, and power suppliers Energex, Energy Australia, Ergon Energy, ESCO Energy Solutions, ETSA Utilities and Western Power.

Although no universities have signed up to lease the i-MiEV, other approved i-MiEV lessees include GE Custom Fleet, Carsales, Google, Leaseplan, Hume Building Society, Ozgene, Rock Constructions, Roche Products and St George Bank.

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