Mitsubishi Motors has today announced that it is to enter two electric cars into this year's Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, taking place this July. In addition to the electric production i-MiEV taking part, Mitsubishi is entering its i-MiEV Evolution, a prototype developed from i-MiEV technology, purpose built for the Pikes Peak event. And compared to the production model it's a wee beastie.
Developed with assistance from electrical component and battery manufacturers such as Meidensha and GS Yuasa, the i-MiEV Evolution has, according to Mitsubishi, been built for "superior durability and reliability." But a look at the specs suggests that the Evolution has really been built for power.
Instead of the i-MiEV's single 490-kW motor, the Evolution boasts three 80-kW motors for a maximum output of 240 kW. The drive battery is 35 kWh to the production i-MiEV's 16. Oh, and the Evolution is four-wheel drive whereas the standard i-MiEV includes a rear-wheel drivetrain.
Reducing the i-MiEV from a four-seater to a one-man racer, the Evolution has a larger footprint and reduced height for a lower center of gravity. At 1.34 m (52.7 in) high it stands 0.28 m (10.9 in) lower than the production i-MiEV.
The regular i-MiEV set to climb Pikes Peak will also be modified, with roll bars and other safety features added, as well as a more aerodynamic front bumper.
The Evolution will be driven by Mitsubishi's own rally driver and race team manager Hiroshi Masuoka, who achieved back to back Dakar wins in 2002 and 2003. The production i-MiEV will be driven by American off-road racer Beccy Gordon.
Obviously Mitsubishi will be hoping for success in the Pikes Peak electric class, but with the i-MiEV's US availability set to expand from the west coast to nationwide in June, there's perhaps an extra commercial incentive to succeed.