According to the Chicago Tribune Mitsubishi may introduce a plug-in mini vehicle in the U.S. by 2009. It would be a four-door, four-passenger car derived from a Mitsubishi Colt that's now sold in Japan. It would be powered by a 1.1-liter, 3-cylinder gasoline engine and electric motors at the wheels, a MIEV--Mitsubishi In-wheel Electric Vehicle. With electric motors powering the wheels, it is always driven by the electric motors, the engine being only used to recharge the batteries. This eliminates the need for a conventional transmission and save a lot of space and weight which translates to better mileage. The estimated recharging time for the lithium-ion batteries would be only 10 minutes.
There seems to be quite a bit of conflict between the Tribune description and what Green Car Congress has to say about developments at Mitsubishi, although the Trib got some info in a phone interview. Neither Green Car Congress or the Mitsubishi press release have anything to say about a plug-in, only about the concept CT MIEV (shown) to be introduced at the Detroit Motor Show, which is clearly a two door. That leaves the questions: Is it more like the MIEV electric that GCG reported on in May with an engine added, is it the 2 door CT MIEV with a plug, is it something else or did the Trib get the facts mixed up? I'm voting for the latter.
Resource: Mitsubishi ponders joining the mini derby despite late start, Chicago Tribune, December 5, 2005