Mitsubishi is on a roll. After already selling some 17,000 electric vehicles worldwide and a successful North American launch of its stripped down “i-MiEV” model this fall, the Japanese automaker is following up with the introduction of an all-electric, light commercial van for its domestic market.
The new Minicab-MiEV has already hit the streets in Japan and Mitsubishi hopes that the larger capacity of the electric vehicle will continue the automaker’s success with bare-bones, utilitarian and affordable EVs. The two-wheel drive Minicab is based on the a gas version of the mini truck that Mitsubishi has had in production since 1966. The electric version, however, features the same battery, motor and other major components featured in the i-MiEV, which has been in production since 2009.
The new mini truck features two lithium ion battery options. The 10.5-kilowatt-hour (kWh) version offers a 62-mile range on a full charge while the 16-kWh version delivers 93 miles of driving. A full charge using a 200-volt pipe will take 4.5 hours for the smaller battery and up to seven hours for the large juice box. Mitsubishi’s regenerative braking system uses the motor as a generator during braking and stores the recovered kinetic energy as electricity in the battery. Mitsubishi also offers its MiEV OS vehicle management system as a standard feature. The OS monitors the state of the drive battery and the event of a collision, electricity leak or a fault occurring, the system cuts off the high-voltage circuitry from the drive battery to protect the safety of occupants and rescue teams.
Inside the cockpit, the Minicab-MiEV uses the i-MiEV’s instrument cluster, which includes a digital speedometer, power meter, charge indicator and available range displays. Also similar to the i-MiEV, the Minicab features three drive options for normal operation, lower output/energy-saving operation, and operation in which the regenerative brake effect is increased.
Though it’s only available in Japan for the time being, Mitsubishi hopes to move 4,000 of the minicabs by March 2012. At today’s exchange rates, the car will retail at $30,870 for the lower capacity battery version and $38,210 for the larger battery. After Japanese eco-car subsidies, those prices shrink to $22,260 and $25,990.