The Automotive Researchers' & Journalists' Conference of Japan (RJC) has named the loveable little Mitsubishi "i" its 2007 Car of the Year. The quirky and compelling "i" kei car has been quite a sensation, with its unique appearance and rear-midship engine layout, garnering plenty of attention in Japan from journalists and the general public. Mitsubishi, obviously aware of the hit it has on its hands, has kept interest in the "i" at high levels through clever marketing stunts like the one-off Hello Kitty edition and by giving it a prominent role in the company's research on future electric vehicle technology.

The RJC Car of the Year award is not the first accolade the "i" has won this year. Last month, it was awarded the Japan Industrial Design Promotion Organization's Good Design Grand Prize -- a first for a kei car.

(Press release after the jump)

[Source: Mitsubishi]


PRESS RELEASE:
MITSUBISHI "i" TAKES RJC CAR OF THE YEAR 2007

Tokyo, November 15, 2006 – Mitsubishi Motors Corporation today announced that the "i" has been awarded the "RJC Car of the Year 2007" by the Automotive Researchers' & Journalists' Conference of Japan (RJC) *1. The "i" is the first Mitsubishi car to win RJC Car of the Year.

Ushering in a new age for the minicar, "i" was developed as an innovative Premium Small Car that successfully overcomes the tradeoffs traditionally associated with the category: design versus comfortable interior space; comfortable interior space versus impact safety. Mitsubishi Motors has conquered these challenges by developing a new and leading edge "rear-midship layout" that mounts the engine forward of the rear axle line and permits three new "innovations" within the category's dimensional constraints: futuristic and uptown styling; agile handling and a comfortable ride; and excellent multidirectional impact safety. This highly original exterior and interior design, which is delivered by the ingenious platform, brought the grand prize in the award.

MMC president Osamu Masuko made the following remarks: "We are honoured to receive this significant award today with our "i" minicar that has found favour with customers for its outstanding and futuristic design. We will keep working on the development of customer-oriented models with this unique "rear-midship layout" platform that brings new levels of ride comfort and impact safety together with innovative design."

Note to Editors

*1 In this year's RJC Car of the Year, 62 members of a selection committee considered 25 domestic vehicles whose production plan is more than five thousand vehicles per year, launched between November 1, 2005 and October 31, 2006.

"i" is currently under consideration for introduction to the UK market with a decision expected to be made by Mitsubishi Motors UK before the end of 2006.