Firm gears up for electric car
THE CANBERRA TIMES
Thursday, July 15, 2010
The Canberra business redeveloping the Belconnen Markets will be among the first Australian companies to receive Mitsubishi’s new electric car. The Rock Development Group is one of 28 members of Mitsubishi’s i-MiEV foundation group, which has won the right to lease the innovative electric city-cars. The group includes the federal departments of Climate Change, Environment and Transport, state governments in NSW, Victoria, South Australia and Queensland, and capital city councils. Other businesses to receive an i-MiEV will include Google, Energex, LeasePlan and Carsales.com.
Mitsubishi Australia chief executive Masahiko Takahashi said demand for the vehicles had been high. ‘‘The last 12 months have seen Mitsubishi conduct Australian trials of the vehicle with hundreds of potential owners, including local, state and federal government bodies, and major fleet operators, and the feedback from these test drives has been very positive,’’ Mr Takahashi said. ‘‘However, the proof of Australia’s acceptance of the electric vehicle comes down to whether people are ready to purchase the vehicle and there is no doubt that they are. ‘‘We have three times as many applicants as vehicles at this point.’’ Mitsubishi announced 40 vehicles would initially be available, prompting applications for more than 100 vehicles from 40 companies, it said. Rock Development Group director Maria Efkarpidis said the i-MiEV car would be the first in a planned fleet of electric vehicles. Mrs Efkarpidis said the redeveloped Belconnen Fresh Food Markets would be the first in the ACT to cater for electric cars, with electric plug-in points in the car park. The i-MiEV was released in Japan in July 2009. It uses a large-capacity lithium-ion battery system and a compact, high-output electric motor in place of a traditional petrol engine.
The motor produces 47 kilowatts of power and boasts a top speed of 130km/h and a range of about 160km. It has zero emissions and based on current electricity prices will cost between $2.50 and
$4 to charge. Charging takes seven hours using a cable that plugs into a standard electricity socket, although the car also features a special highspeed charging outlet to allow for an 80 per cent charge in 30 minutes using a special fastcharge station. An early production version was brought to Australia last year for the motoring media to drive and, apart from the lack of any engine noise, performed just like a conventional vehicle of similar size and configuration.
Its dash was a little different, featuring a digital speedo and a gauge that showed how much power was being used or, under braking, being returned to the car’s batteries. Mr Takahashi said with 85 per cent of commuters in urban Australia travelling fewer than 100km each day, the i-MiEV was an excellent solution to reducing a driver’s environmental footprint.