As Mitsubishi's iMiev electric cars become available to the public next year, the UK will be the first to benefit from technology that will see the Lithium-ion batteries recharged to 80 percent capacity in just 30 minutes. Mitsubishi UK will be the first company in Europe to showcase the city car's fast charging capabilities.

We previously reported that 25 iMiev's were going on the road in the UK as part of a trial and the company reports that more are on the way for a leasing scheme. Although the initial scheme is fully booked up, Mitsubishi has hinted that more could follow giving the British public a chance to try the four-seater, rear-wheel drive electric vehicle before they buy (the first models will be available for purchase next year).

Even though the average daily commute in the UK is thought to be no more than 48km (30 miles), which is well within the 130 - 160km (81 - 100 miles) travel capabilities of the iMiev, a criticism often leveled at electric vehicles is limited range. The 200 x 100 x 80cm (79 x 39 x 32in) fast charger (supplied by Tokyo Electric Power Company) is claimed to replenish the batteries to 80 percent capacity in just 30 minutes so strategically placing a few at motorway service areas or car parks in retail zones should extend the car's range and convenience by more than enough to silence most detractors.

Mitsubishi UK is gearing up to be the first company in Europe to showcase fast charging technology for the iMiev. Lance Bradley of Mitsubishi UK said: "the fast charge function will revolutionize the way people think about the practicalities of Electric Vehicles. This is particularly significant with the launch of the Plugged in Places initiative by the Department for Transport, which is seeking to accelerate the implementation of the UK's charging infrastructure".

UK actor turned broadcaster Robert Llewellyn (of Red Dwarf and Scrapheap Challenge fame) will be using an iMiev next year for a brand new video podcast focused on electric vehicles, where no doubt such things as performance and range will be eagerly discussed. His internet TV portal Llewtube will have more information shortly.

See below for a short introduction to the iMiev: