TOKYO--Mitsubishi Motors Corp. and Isuzu Motors Ltd. are among the companies involved in a Japanese start-up that aims to develop a prototype electric vehicle and popularize its technology by sharing its engineering.
SIM-Drive Corp., founded in September by CEO Hiroshi Shimizu, wants to leverage the know-how of automakers, suppliers, and trading companies to jointly develop the electric vehicle by next year and put it into mass production by 2013.
The 34 partner companies were announced Jan. 22. Mitsubishi and Isuzu bring automaking experience. Other team members include Sanden Corp., Pioneer Corp., Teikoku Piston Ring Co., THK Corp., Tokyo Electric Power Co., Mitsui & Co., and Iriso Electronics Co.
Each participating company chips in ¥20 million (about $221,000 at current exchange rates) and one engineer to help develop the prototype vehicle. The company then has the right to adopt any technology that has been developed.
SIM-Drive says it plans to make money by licensing the technology to third parties.
The goal is an electric car that can travel 190 miles on a single battery charge--about double the performance of today's electric vehicles--and be cost-competitive with cars that run on gasoline.
Mitsubishi already is a pioneer in electric vehicles. Its four-seat i-MiEV electric is set to arrive in the United States in mid-2011.
The upcoming SIM-Drive prototype will build on Shimizu's previous research, including his use of flat aluminum frames that house the batteries and in-wheel motors.