In the article, Zero Emissions, Autoweek reports that Mitsubishi has plans to sell a small electric car in the U.S. The car will be powered by lithium-ion batteries, has four doors, all-wheel drive and a 1.1-liter gasoline engine. Each wheel has an electric motor built into the wheel assembly, a MIEV--Mitsubishi In-wheel Electric Vehicle. The four electric motors provide awd without a traditional transmission and its additional weight. With electric motors powering the wheels, it is always driven by the electric motors, the engine being only used to recharge the batteries. This is very similar to the car described in a previous post. Whether the car can be plugged in for recharging was not stated. Reasons for producing the car include:
- Electric cars have zero emissions
- Fuel cell technology is still off in the future
- Diesels are big in Europe but not in Japan and the U.S.
Timing and sales volume targets were not disclosed. A detailed announcement about the car is expected shortly. The production version might be based on the next-generation Colt, which is due before the end of the decade.
A Dec. 2005 article in the Chicago Tribune stated that the estimated recharging time for the lithium-ion batteries would be only 10 minutes, not stating where the electricity was coming from and the car would be available in 2009. The car is only zero emissions while running -- which does not count the emissions created while making the electricity for charging, which is advantage when driving the car in an urban environment and since central power lants can run more efficdintly than on-vehicle electrical production. The small ICE allows for charging of the vehicle fairly efficiently, in case the batteries are discharged unexpectedly, assuming the batteries are normally charged by connecting them to the grid. This would reduce the fear of being stranded, while not having the complexity and cost of a plug-in hybrid. Cars using motors built into the wheels are becoming a popular concept.