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Mitsubishi electric plans: From show to go in U.S.

Car to be near Smart's size, but with 2 rows. Automotive News reports.


Automotive News

Mitsubishi will sell a small electric car in the United States.

The car, a Japan-built ultracompact with a 330-volt lithium ion battery, is being road-tested in Oregon. Mitsubishi plans to begin marketing the car in Japan in July and to introduce it in Europe in 2010. The U.S. launch is tentatively scheduled to happen after Europe's.

Mitusubishi i MiEV
Shinichi Kurihara, Mitsubishi Motors North America CEO, shows off the i MiEV electric car at the New York auto show. The car will be launched in the United States after its European debut in 2010. Lucas Jackson/Reuters

Mitsubishi has shown the car, dubbed the i MiEV, to audiences around the world in recent weeks. A left-hand-drive version of the i MiEV was shown last week at the New York auto show.

Moe Durand, a product spokesman for Mitsubishi Motors North America, said no price has been set for the U.S. version of the electric car. The Japanese version will sell for about $30,000 after government subsidies are deducted.

The car will undergo changes for the United States, including a slight widening of the body. But it will remain largely as is--a model designated as a kei car in Japan, representing vehicles that are roughly the size of Daimler's Smart car.

Durand said the U.S. version will have two rows of seats.

"This is smaller than a B-segment car," he said. "We're not going to make it bigger. The beauty of the car is its size."

The decision to sell the car in the United States follows a pattern emerging at Mitsubishi to reposition itself as a small-car brand.

(Source: Automotive News)