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June 10, 2009

Mitsubishi and Subaru Launch Electric Cars in Japan

Photo of a four-door mini-car.

If the i-MiEV's price tag of $44,860 is any indication of the cost of electric vehicles powered with lithium-ion batteries, the vehicles may have limited appeal in the United States.
Credit: Mitsubishi Motors Corporation

Mitsubishi Motors Corporation and Fuji Heavy Industries, Inc. (FHI), the maker of Subaru automobiles, both announced in early June that they will soon begin selling electric vehicles in Japan. Mitsubishi unveiled the production version of its i-MiEV, a mini-car with a lithium-ion battery pack tucked under its floor. The vehicle has a range of about 100 miles, and it can be quick-charged in about 30 minutes. A 47-kilowatt motor drives the wheels via a single-speed reduction gear transmission, an approach similar to that used in the high-end Tesla Roadster. Mitsubishi plans to lease about 1,400 of the vehicles to corporations and local authorities this year, with sales to individuals starting in April 2010. The company will start taking orders for the vehicle in late July. The vehicle will sell for 4.38 million yen, or about $44,860, including a tax exemption of about $2,240. The vehicle will also qualify for a rebate of up to $14,200, which would lower the price to $30,660. See the Mitsubishi Motors press release and the i-MiEV Web site.

Meanwhile, FHI launched its Subaru Plug-in Stella electric vehicle, which is also a mini-car equipped with a lithium-ion battery pack. The vehicle has a much shorter range of 56 miles, but it actually costs more than the i-MiEV, at 4.725 million yen, or about $48,200, including consumption taxes, which will probably be exempted. It will qualify for a rebate of up to $14,100, bringing the price down to $34,100. The vehicle is much like the i-MiEV, with a 47-kilowatt motor and a quick-charge capability, but the two-door mini-car has a boxy shape. FHI plans to start delivery in late July and plans to sell 170 vehicles by March 2010. See the FHI press release (PDF 44 KB). Download Adobe Reader.

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