March 3, 2009 The move to electric automobiles gained momentum rapidly in Geneva over the last few days with the announcement that Mitsubishi Motors Corporation (MMC) and PSA Peugeot Citroen will collaborate on electric vehicles based on a Mitsubishi's i MiEV. Then the wraps were pulled off a European prototype i MiEV featuring several changes compared to the Japanese market i MiEV due in Q3, 2009.
The Euro I MiEV features widened front and rear tracks and extended front and rear overhangs to provide the higher levels of pedestrian protection expected in Europe as well as better occupant protection in the event of a rear-end shunt. The changes result in a shape that hints strongly at the vehicle's all-round stability.
The interior design features simple, clean styling and with a dial-type shifter and extensive use of circular shapes for the air vents and other elements, creating a welcoming interior space.
The snow-white body and ice-blue interior color derive from a "glacier" theme that was designed to evoke a strong ecological image. The printed circuit board pattern used in the surfaces and motifs adds a high-tech look to the interior.
The prototype i MiEV, like the Japanese market i MiEV, uses a unique rear-midship layout which in a gasoline-fueled car places the engine just in front of the rear wheels. In the prototype i MiEV the engine and fuel tank found in an engine-driven vehicle are replaced by the electric motor, inverter, lithium-ion battery module and other EV system components.
The rear-midship layout offers several merits including a long wheelbase that provides more interior space. In addition, the location of the heavier EV system components under the floor deck lowers the center of gravity and realizes greater vehicle stability at higher speeds.
Details of the PSA/MMC collaboration were also disclosed.
In June 2008, both companies started a feasibility study of the development, manufacture and use of an electric powertrain for small urban vehicles.
The companies have now reached an understanding that will allow PSA to partner with MMC for the development of an electric vehicle for Europe based on the i MiEV, to be manufactured by MMC and sold under Peugeot brand, in parallel to Mitsubishi's own European i MiEV.
This new step would be mutually beneficial since the collaboration of MMC and PSA Peugeot Citroen will ease and accelerate the introduction of their electric vehicles in the European market.
The two companies are now in negotiations on a cooperative agreement, targeting market launch at the end of 2010 or the very beginning of 2011.
With an extensive knowledge of electric vehicles, PSA Peugeot Citroen is the largest global manufacturer of electric vehicles to date, with more than 10,000 units sold. PSA Peugeot Citroen will bring to this project its expertise in the field of electric powertrains.
For MMC, this project is consistent with its worldwide electric vehicle strategy. Currently involved in testing and promotional activities in Japan, New Zealand, the United States and across Europe, the i MiEV will be launched in Japan during the summer of 2009. In parallel to the 2010 European launch of the i MiEV, MMC is examining several markets including the U.S. for the rollout of the electric vehicle.