Mitsubishi i-MiEV to bow out

words - Bruce Newton
No demand so no importing of Mitsubishi's electric vehicle

It was the first electric vehicle to go on-sale in Australia, now it appears certain the Mitsubishi i-MiEV will be the first to go off-sale.

With no sales demand, no prospect of government subsidisation to aid its high $48,800 price and little public recharging infrastructure in Australia, there appears little hope of any more being imported by Mitsubishi Motors Australia.

“We won’t be forcing them down people’s throats, if there is a demand we will bring them,” said Mitsubishi Australia customer and brand management vice-president Paul Unerkov. “We haven’t ordered any for a while.”

First rolled out in Australia with much fanfare in 2010, the plug-in i-MiEV has managed just 227 sales, virtually none of them to private buyers.

Its departure, while more of a quiet fade away than an official exit, leaves the Nissan Leaf as the only pure EV on-sale in Australia.

Nissan has just dropped its price to $46,990 drive-away to move 2012 stock before the upgraded 2013 model arrives.

However, Mitsubishi is launching the world-first plug-in hybrid SUV, the Outlander PHEV, in Australia mid-year. It offers a 55km electric-only range, an 880km overall range and the ability to recharge its batteries via the petrol engine on the move.

A series of other hybrids, plug-in hybrids and possibly even pure EVs are expected to follow. The new generation Lancer, due in 2014, is expected to include a hybrid drivetrain.

In total, Mitsubishi has promised eight electrified models by 2015 globally, expected to include ASX, Pajero, Triton and a derivative from the Mirage’s Global Small platform.

The Outlander PHEV is expected to be priced somewhere between $45,000 and $50,000, giving Mitsubishi a much higher volume opportunity than with the Japanese kei-car based i-MiEV.

“The concept of the plug-in hybrid is fantastic. It eliminates every question we have about i-MiEV it eliminates just about every one. Suitability for the Australian market, range. None of that is an issue,” Mr Unerkov said.

However, he added the i-MiEV experience had been worthwhile for MMAL, acting as a valuable learning experience for Mitsubishi as it expands its electrified range.

NB: The i-MiEV was one of six vehicles that recently took part in our 6 AMP Hour Challenge

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Published : Wednesday, 23 January 2013
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