REPORT: Mitsubishi considering gasoline-engine MiEV

Mitsubishi i MiEV - Click above for high-res image gallery

Mitsubishi already plans on selling its little MiEV electric car in the U.S. within the next 18 months, and it appears that we may get a gasoline powered version of the roomy micro car as well. Automotive News is reporting that Mitsubishi is mulling the idea of putting petrol power in charge of propulsion of some i models, giving dealers a higher volume line that can compete with the Smart Fortwo. The automaker already sells a gasoline powered i in Europe, but Mitsubishi Motors North America VP John Koenig reportedly told AN that the Euro model's turbocharged 660cc motor would likely be swapped out for the same Mitsubishi-sourced 1.0-liter three-cylinder model that powers the Smart.

If Koenig wants to bring the gas-powered i to the States, he estimates that he'll have to prove that dealers can sell 1,000 models per month in order to get the parent company to pull the trigger. That sounds doable to us considering Smart sold 20,000 Fortwo's in the first 10 months of production – in spite of the fact that the unique-looking micro mini is premium-priced and only has two seats. The i can comfortably seat four and it can probably be sold for close to the Fortwo's $11,990 starting price. The typical i sells in more small car tolerant Europe for $16,000.

[Source: Automotive News - subs. req.]

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