Mitsubishi joins electric car drive

mitsubishiMitsubishi Motor Corporation is planning to launch an electric version of its “i” city car in the UK. The move is a further step towards the commercialisation of electric vehicles.

The Japanese marque will start producing and testing the i-MiEV, which stands for Mitsubishi in-wheel motor Electric Vehicle, next year. The UK business is pressing hard for the car to go on sale in this country, possibly as early as 2011.

Mitsubishi UK managing director Jim Tyrell says: “There’s a market for electric vehicles in urban areas if they perform like a regular vehicle, as this one does.

“We have written to the Government to ask it to put its money where its mouth is by not charging VAT on electric vehicles.

“It’s the sort of thing it needs to do if it’s serious about putting these vehicles into places like London.”

Tyrell believes that congestion charging in cities such as London will eventually involve a toll for any vehicle that produces emissions, with only fully electric vehicles going free.

Mitsubishi launched the “i” city car in the summer and the first batch of 300 sold out in two and a half weeks. It is planning 1,500 more for the UK in 2008.

Daimler said last month that it would begin testing plug-in electric versions of its Smart Fortwo microcar in London before the end of the year. The car could go on sale in the UK in 2010.

Toyota and General Motors are both developing plug-in hybrid electric cars which, unlike Daimler’s all-electric Smart Fortwo, will rely on internal combustion engines to extend their driving range.

Nissan and Renault also plan to sell electric cars commercially by 2012.

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