While Mitsubishi didn't unveil any new vehicles at the LA Auto Show today, company president Osamu Masuko did announce the latest step in his company's plan to bring plug-in vehicles to North America. The vehicle – well, one of them – is an all-electric i-MiEV plastered with Best Buy's Geek Squad logo. The electronics giant will start using them in January (after they're shown off at CES) at some Geek Squad locations in California. Details have not yet been totally worked out, but the Geek EVs will start with a fleet of four vehicles and then expand and rotate to other stores over the course of three years. Most likely, the i-MiEVs will be doled out in pairs and the probable early cities where these vehicles will make house calls include Chicago, New York, Portland and San Francisco.
Best Buy plans to use the i-MiEVs just like any other fleet car, with the exception that they will be right-hand drive. Best Buy's Senior Vice President of emerging business, Rick Rommel, told AutoblogGreen that the idea is to learn "how these will fit into a Geek's daily life." The plug-in vehicle tests with Geek Squad are unrelated to how select West Coast Best Buy stores are selling electric bikes. That said, Rommel admits that the key thing is that Best Buy likes to conduct new experiments, and these EVs fit into that general concept.
Live photos copyright ©2009 Sebastian Blanco / Weblogs, Inc.
TEXT OF SPEECH:
Good afternoon, everyone, and welcome.Mitsubishi Motors Corporation President Osamu Masuko delivers the speech below to a media audience attending the 3:45pm (PST) press conference at the Los Angeles Convention Center. This version of the speech includes breaks and references to product-related video to help convey flow.
In this difficult business environment for the automotive industry around the globe, the giant North American market continues to be as important as ever to Mitsubishi Motors...and it is vital that we succeed here.
To succeed in such an important market, we will continue to introduce vehicles that meet the needs of North American customers.
We hear the growing demands from customers worldwide for cars that are fuel efficient, highly capable, and support the sustainability of our environment. Of course North America is no exception.
In response, we will continue to focus on our core strength of building high-quality, compact-class vehicles. On the stage with me this afternoon are two additions to our current line-up whose size and performance, we believe, fully match the needs of North American customers.
The All-New 2010 Lancer Sportback...
And the All-New 2010 Outlander GT.
...And we will also expand our line-up next Fall with an all-new compact crossover alternative well-suited for leisure activities as well as driving pleasure. Please take a look.
PRODUCT VIDEO (Outlander GT, Lancer Sportback)
I would also like to note that we plan to bring a global small car to North America in the near future to further enhance the depth of our compact products.
Emerging technologies will offer a range of alternatives in the quest to enhance sustainability. Electric Vehicles, or "EV's," gasoline-electric hybrids, plug-in hybrids, and clean diesels are examples of valid near-term alternatives.
Consumer demands will dictate the best combination of technologies that are suited to best address a given region's conditions. Mitsubishi Motors is responding with accelerated development of such technologies.
Over the past couple of years, we have told you about-and you have reported on-the development of our i-MiEV electric vehicle.
Today, I am pleased to tell you that the i-MiEV on display here has gone on sale in Japan this summer... and we have delivered approximately 800 of these innovative vehicles to date.
We also plan to roll out the vehicle globally, as next year we will roll out a left-hand drive version, along with OEM supply of the i-MiEV to Peugeot Citroen.
In the North American market, attention has focused on the EV as awareness of the environment grows.
The i-MiEV was originally designed to help explore an avenue toward sustainability. The vehicle's size, and innovative packaging make it especially ideal for dense urban environments throughout Asia and Europe.
The road leading to production of the i-MiEV has given MMC a broad understanding of the challenges of building and marketing electric vehicles. In Japan, we sought vital partnerships with TEPCO and other utility agencies to help develop charging solutions and the quick charger. Another example is Lawson convenience store chain which made a commitment to install charging units at select stores in Japan.
Such efforts have helped spur infrastructure support for EVs in Japan, with more than seventy quick-chargers already installed. We can expect to see this number quickly increase in the near future.
For the growth of EVs in the US, expanding infrastructure will be even more critical. We have conducted fleet testing with utility companies in California. And we will continue to partner with public entities that will support EVs as a means of transportation in each urban area.
In addition, we anticipate the growth of other related industries along with the spread of EVs...such as the IT and alternative energy sectors, among others, that hold promise for increases in North American employment.
We will continue to promote an environment suitable for EVs, including product development, infrastructure and service. All of this will build toward our introduction of an electric vehicle in North America with a target date of 2011!
As part of this, we have started conducting fleet testing in cooperation with an electric company in California, gathering important data to be used in the expansion of EVs.
One of our more promising partnerships I want to announce today is with Best Buy, the leading electronics retailer in the U.S.
Mitsubishi will lease four Japanese-spec production i-MiEVs and introduce them to its in-home tech service fleet-"Geek Squad."
I wish to acknowledge Mr. Rick Rommel, Senior Vice President of Emerging Business for Best Buy who is here with us today, as we announce this exciting partnership that we hope will become mutually profitable.
Adaptations of Electric Vehicles in the United States will be led by the state of California, thanks to better accessibility to public charging stations. Also noted is the monetary support from the State, and we believe this will make a big impact in increasing customers' interest in EVs.
We predict many other states will respond to this trend. As a result, this technology will spread to large cities as well as mid-size towns where travel distances are most compatible with Electric Vehicles.
We will continue to pursue partnerships in order to help expand infrastructure and conduct vehicle testing. Mitsubishi Motors, as a leading company in electric vehicles will "plug in" to new partnerships across different fields, together developing a new market for EVs.
To conclude my presentation today, I would like to share another idea of fuel efficient technology on the horizon... the Mitsubishi Concept PX-MiEV plug-in hybrid...
As you just saw, the Mitsubishi Concept PX-MiEV is a plug-in hybrid that combines extended cruising range along with improved performance over gasoline-engine vehicles, all in a mid-size package.
We believe the Mitsubishi Concept PX-MiEV matches the needs of the North American market, and moving forward we plan to revamp the vehicle for release in North America by the year 2013.
This vehicle will represent the most evolved result of Mitsubishi's four decades worth of EV research and development.
Certainly, government mandates are driving ALL car companies to explore new technologies for our future.
But at Mitsubishi, we want to go a step beyond... to contribute to the conservation of our environment, working together with our customers and society at large to create a low-carbon society through EVs.
I hope you have found today's presentation informative. And I thank you for visiting us this afternoon.