The i-MiEV's remarkable, all-electric technology is the culmination of nearly four decades of research and development at Mitsubishi. It all began with our first electric vehicle - the Minica EV - which we built back in 1971. Our innovation was immediately put to the test in Japan, as we provided power companies and the government with over 1,000 Minica EVs that cleanly and quietly got the job done.
The years progressed, and we developed more electric models, continually refining battery and motor technologies in a relentless drive toward greater efficiency. One of the key transitions occurred in the mid-90s with the move from lead batteries to a higher-performance, longer-lasting lithium-ion battery pack. This leap, along with other breakthroughs along the way, made the i-MiEV's current power source (and its targeted 62 mile* range) possible.
The i-MiEV you see today is the result of multiple innovations in all-electric technology. And, of course, our vast engineering experience in gasoline-powered vehicles came in handy, too. In fact, the i-MiEV design is based on the platform of Mitsubishi's award-winning gas-powered i minicar that went on sale in Japan in late 2005. The i minicar offered a unique "rear mid-ship" configuration that placed the engine just ahead of the rear axle, providing greater interior space and excellent stability. It's a perfect configuration for an all-electric car designed to seat four.
One year after the launch of the i minicar, Mitsubishi's innovative Electric Vehicle (MiEV) project was formally announced. We began testing prototype versions of the i-MiEV as early as 2007, in a collaborative effort with various Japanese utility companies.
The production version of the i-MiEV hit the streets of Japan (where it's known as the i-MiEV) in the summer of 2009. Since that time, more than 2,000 have been sold, a figure that inspired infrastructure change to accommodate this irrepressible technology. There are now several quick-charging stations in place in Japan which provide fast, convenient charging and expand the utility of all electric vehicles owned by eco-conscious corporations and individuals alike.
Here in the United States, prototype versions of the i-MiEV first appeared in March 2008 at the New York Auto Show. Soon after, cars were in the hands of major utility companies to begin in-market testing. At the 2009 Los Angeles Auto Show, Mitsubishi announced that a new version of the EV would come to the U.S. market toward the end of 2011. This new North American version was unveiled at the Los Angeles Auto Show in November 2010.
* Based upon various EPA testing methods using different driving conditions and climate controls; the EPA rated the i-MiEV with a driving range of 62 miles per charge. Actual range will vary depending on driving/charging habits, speed, conditions, weather, temperature, and battery age. Gradual loss of battery capacity will result with time and use.
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