AN ELECTRIC car looks set to go on sale in Australia next year for as little as $30,000.
The secret plan to sell the Mitsubishi i MiEV has been in the pipeline for almost a year, led by a team predominantly aged in their 20s and 30s.
Officially, Mitsubishi is embarking on a feasibility study for the egg-shaped four-seater that goes on sale in Japan this year, but the company’s Australian president and CEO, Robert McEniry, rates the chances of it arriving in local dealerships by 2010 as "very high".
"We think there’s quite a groundswell for a vehicle like this," Mr McEniry said. "We’re fairly confident that demand is there." Mitsubishi is bringing two i MiEVs – innovative Mitsubishi electric vehicles – to Australia on February 12.
One will be for display, starting with next month’s Melbourne motor show, and the other will be driven by potential customers, many of whom could be from governments and companies looking to promote a green image.
"Clearly [this will appeal to] companies and fleets that really have the resolve to reduce their carbon footprint," Mr McEniry said. "Then I think the public will pick them up. In places like Sydney and Melbourne … for city commuting, they’re ideal."
Unlike hybrid cars, such as the Toyota Prius, which uses an electric motor in conjunction with a petrol engine, the i MiEV runs purely on electricity, so emits no carbon dioxide.
It has a 47kW electric motor producing about 25 per cent less power than a Toyota Yaris, and can be driven for up to 160 kilometres on each charge. It can be recharged in a regular power point in about eight hours, or for just 20 minutes in a higher voltage outlet.
Mitsubishi is talking to two suppliers about recharging infrastructure and other issues surrounding electric vehicles.