Mitsubishi is currently working on a new global small car positioned below its Colt hatchback and scheduled to enter production at a newly erected plant in Thailand in March of 2012. We first heard about the project late last year but at this week’s 2011 Geneva Motor Show the Japanese automaker rolled out a concept previewing its upcoming model and confirmed its eventual sale in the U.S.
The new concept has been labeled the Mitsubishi e-compact and it comes packing an advanced electric drivetrain. From the onset of development, Mitsubishi has intended its new small car to be offered with an electric drive system and thus its platform has been engineered that way.
This is contrary to most other electric cars currently on the market, such as the Tesla Roadster, Ford Focus Electric and even Mitsubishi’s own i minicar, all of which are based on vehicles designed originally for internal combustion engines only.
In addition to electric drive option, however, the new Mitsubishi small car will also offer three-cylinder MIVEC gasoline engines displacing 1.0 and 1.2-liters. In order to maximize fuel economy, they will be matched with engine stop-start technology and brake energy recovery systems. Low rolling resistance tires, lightweight construction and aerodynamic aids will also help lower overall fuel consumption.
The dimensions are 12.3 feet in length, 5.5 feet in width and 4.9 feet in height, putting it in the B-segment of vehicle categories along with models like the Ford Fiesta and MINI Cooper. Despite its small stature, Mitsubishi claims that it will still be able to seat up to five adults.
With cars like the Smart ForTwo, MINI Cooper and upcoming Scion iQ either on sale here or on their way, we wouldn’t be surprised if Mitsubishi finds success here in the U.S. with its new global small car as well. The production version will be revealed towards the end of this year.