Following today's announcement that the i-MiEV will come to the U.S. in the near future, we took a few minutes to speak with Charlie Allcock, director of economic development at PGE (not PG&E, because, as I found out, saying that would make you look silly). PGE is Mitsubishi's new partner utility for testing electric vehicles in the U.S. (along with SCE). Currently, the two organizations have a Memorandum of Understanding, which means that they're not willing to discuss details until things are finalized (which should happen by June). Still, Allcock was able to tell us a few things about the next step in bringing the electric jellybean to the U.S.
Up first, working out the details of the Mitsubishi MOU. "We want to see what they're like to have in the fleet," Allcock said. "We want to see what the charging is like. We want to see what the impact is on our system and we want to show them to our customers."
PGE is also working with Nisssan-Renault on testing their battery-powered vehicles, and Allcock said he expects this to not be the last of the bunch. "I expect more OEMs to be coming our way, as well as the charging station manufacturers," he said. Part of the reason is a recent Request For Proposal issued by the state of Oregon for soliciting charging equipment for electric vehicles, the first of its kind in the United States. The floodgates are starting to creak open. "I think every OEM is going to have their time when they engage in the 'where?' conversation," Allcock said. When they do, Portland will be ready.
Give a listen (7 min):
Mitsubishi Motors Green Lights i MiEV Electric Car for Global Markets
State of Oregon and Portland General Electric Join Test Program
NEW YORK, April 9 -- Mitsubishi Motors is accelerating its drive toward greater environmental responsibility and reinforcing its Drive@Earth global sustainability initiative by announcing today its commitment to develop the pure electric, four-passenger Mitsubishi i MiEV for global markets.
Ending months of heightening speculation, Mitsubishi Motors North America President and CEO Shinichi Kurihara confirmed the i MiEV (Mitsubishi Innovative Electric Vehicle) is being developed for sale in world markets, including the United States.
"Electric vehicles are one branch of the automotive landscape and we are dedicated to providing these technology-sourced solutions as an important path for the world's clean-air options," explained Kurihara, who stood alongside a Left Hand Drive i MiEV during his address to journalists at the New York International Auto Show. "We believe the i MiEV delivers on the promise of sustainability, suitable range, performance, and innovative packaging and styling."
The award-winning Mitsubishi i MiEV is expected to be the world's first practical electric vehicle offered by a major automobile manufacturer when fleet sales begin this July in Japan.
State of Oregon and Portland General Electric Join Partnership
Kurihara was pleased to also announce that the State of Oregon and Portland General Electric (PGE) (NYSE: POR) are joining Mitsubishi in the i MiEV partnership program. "State of Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski is a progressive thinker who is providing a roadmap of the future," commented Kurihara. "The State of Oregon and Portland General Electric will become valuable partners in helping validate the future of all electric vehicles."
Details of the programs are being finalized, but the findings from these real-world, independent tests will play an important role in further advancing the car's development for the U.S. market.
"Oregon welcomes the partnership with Mitsubishi as we transition to the next generation in vehicle technology. Together, we can build a consistent and reliable infrastructure so consumers can make the switch seamlessly to electric vehicles," Governor Kulongoski said. "The partnership shows that a state can create opportunity for its commitment to a greener future - wins for our economy and our environment."
PGE is rolling out a network of charging stations across its service territory in Oregon and the addition of i MiEVs further facilitates its support of next-generation electric vehicles. PGE currently has more than a dozen charging stations up and running.
"We are developing a model charging station infrastructure across our service territory to advance the electric vehicle market in Oregon for our customers," said Jim Piro, president and CEO, PGE. "Our customers are number one in the nation in purchasing renewable power so clearly they are committed to sustainability. We expect Oregon to be one of the top markets for next generation electric vehicles. We look forward to partnering with Mitsubishi and the state of Oregon on this important project."
Mitsubishi i MiEV Performance
Based on the successful Japanese market "i" car, the electric version replaces the i's conventional gasoline engine, transmission and fuel tank with an advanced lithium-ion battery system, electric motor and onboard charging system. Unique rear mid-ship architecture allowed Mitsubishi Motors to seamlessly integrate the new components under the seats, luggage compartment and floor deck, meaning no compromise in interior cabin space. In fact, there are few visual sight cues that indicate the vast technological differences between the gasoline and electric models.
With its high-torque electric motor and clever packaging, the i MiEV offers an intelligent combination of useful performance with small physical and carbon footprints, plus a roomy interior and a sensible range of approximately 80 miles from its advanced lithium-ion battery pack.
The i MiEV's battery pack consists of 22 modules, each one consisting of four cells that can be installed in either a vertical or transverse position under the i MiEV's floor. The i MiEV's onboard charger automatically adapts between a standard 110 outlet - which takes 12-14 hours - or half that time on 220. There is also a fast charge connector that allows the battery to reach 80 percent of capacity in just 30 minutes.
The proprietary lithium-ion batteries are purpose-built for automotive applications. It is produced by Lithium Energy Japan, a joint venture among GS Yuasa, Mitsubishi Corporation and Mitsubishi Motors.
About Mitsubishi Motors Corporation
Mitsubishi Motors North America, Inc., (MMNA) is responsible for all manufacturing, finance, sales, marketing, research and development operations for Mitsubishi Motors in the United States. MMNA sells coupes, convertibles, sedans, sport utility vehicles and light trucks through a network of approximately 420 dealers. For more information, contact the Mitsubishi Motors News Bureau at (888) 560-6672 or visit media.mitsubishicars.com.
Portland General Electric Company, headquartered in Portland, Ore., is a fully integrated electric utility that serves approximately 810,000 residential, commercial and industrial customers in Oregon. For more information about Portland General Electric Company, please visit the company's Web site at www.PortlandGeneral.com.