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Mitsubishi Commits To Selling Electric Car in U.S. in 2011

 
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Mitsubishi i-MiEV Electric Car for Geek Squad, 2009 LA Auto Show

Mitsubishi i-MiEV Electric Car for Geek Squad, 2009 LA Auto Show

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At today's Los Angeles Auto Show, Mitsubishi committed to selling an electric car in the U.S. during 2011. The company didn't say what car, but it's likely to be a version or an update of its i-MiEV electric mini-car.

While it is struggling in the market, Mitsubishi has a long history of electric car research. It was one of two Japanese makers to put a fully electric car on sale in Japan this summer--the i-MiEV--and it has sold more than 800 in only four months.

Geeks driving electric cars

The company will partner with Best Buy's Geek Squad unit by providing four i-MiEVs to be driven by the "geek" mobile computer repair technicians. The goal is to understand the actual duty cycles of the vehicles, which would likely return to a Best Buy store equipped with a charging station.

Mitsubishi PX-MiEV concept crossover, 2009 Los Angeles Auto Show

Mitsubishi PX-MiEV concept crossover, 2009 Los Angeles Auto Show

Enlarge Photo

Mitsubishi PX-MiEV concept crossover, 2009 Los Angeles Auto Show

Mitsubishi PX-MiEV concept crossover, 2009 Los Angeles Auto Show

Enlarge Photo

Mitsubishi has bet heavily on electric cars, and plans to launch five more electric vehicles, from next year through 2013. The first two, next year, will be a left-hand-drive version of the i-MiEV, to be sold in Europe, and a small electric truck.

LHD i-MiEV for U.S.?

The most likely electric car for the U.S. is the left-hand-drive i-MiEV, which will also need updates to comply with stringent U.S. crash safety requirements.

Dave Patterson, Mitsubishi's North American chief engineer for regulatory affairs, said that the company is still debating on the specification for the U.S. electric car.

But the announcement is significant, because the Mitsubishi electric car will join the 2011 Chevrolet Volt and the 2012 Nissan Leaf in the growing number of plug-in vehicles on sale to U.S. car buyers.

#s 3-5

In 2011, Mitsubishi's third electric car will be a larger all-electric vehicle based on a subcompact platform (the i-MiEV is a mini-car).

Finally, the company will have a plug-in hybrid sport utility vehicle along the lines of its PX-MiEV concept vehicle, and a sportier i-MiEV model something like its 2007 Mitsubishi i-MiEV Sport concept.



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