On Thursday June 4th at its main plant in Okayama Japan, Mitsubishi Motors has become the world's first automaker to begin mass production of an electric car.

The vehicle that has begun rolling off the assembly line is the Mitsubishi iMiEV, a pure electric car with 100 miles of driving range and a top speed of 90 mph.  It is a futuristic-looking 2000 pound 4 door 4-seater which is fun to drive.

The car uses a 16 kwh lithium-ion battery pack that recharges in 14 hours at 120V, 7 hours at 240V, and a 47 kw motor. The lithium-ion batteries are being supplied by a joint initiative with GS Yuasa Corp also of Japan.

Mitsubishi plans to build 2000 units in 2009, 5000 units in 2010, and 15,000 units in 2011.  The cars will go on sale next month in Japan for 3 million yen ($31,100 USD).  There are plans to eventually bring the vehilce to North America, with fleet versions coming first.

"Today is a historic day," said Eiji Kato, general manager of the iMiEV plant. "We will work towards the day when the entire world will associate electric vehicles with the i MiEV."

And so a big step towards a world without oil has been taken.

Source (Nikkei)