LANGAWI: Mitsubishi Motors Corporation (Mitsubishi Motors), a major Japanese automaker, has announced its future plans for the development of electric vehicles (EV) and hybrid vehicles to address the ever-growing concern of the massive carbon footprint left by contemporary vehicles which depend on fossil fuels as energy sources.
At a media conference recently, Takayuki Yatabe from the EV business promotion department of Mitsubishi Motors noted that the limitations of depleting fossil fuels and the progression of global warming caused in part by green house gas emissions had prompted the corporation to actively seek environmentally-friendly solutions to be integrated into its future products.
“Mitsubishi Motors has over 40 years of history with EV research and development, going back to 1966. The prototypes we developed at the time were not practical due to performance issues such as insufficient energy storage and underpowered electric motors.
“Nonetheless, EVs are expected to be part of the countermeasure to oil dependency, air pollution and global warming. Therefore, we continue to research and develop EVs.
“As far back as the early 1990s, we focused on the development of battery technology such as lithium-ion which opened up new advances in EV performance, proving its viability in practical use,” he noted.
In tandem with the improved results in EV technology, the corporation’s mission entitled ‘Mitsubishi Motors Group Environmental Vision 2020’ involved improvements of gasoline and diesel fuel economy as well as increased production of EVs and plug-in hybrid EVs (PHEVs) would reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emission by 50 per cent.
This vision was parallel to targets set by governments of various countries around the globe to increase the presence of EVs in their respective countries by 2020. For example, China and the US target five million EVs and one million EVs respectively.
The Japanese government was committed to the movement as well, with a mission to see at least 50 per cent of new car sales to be economically-friendly by 2020.
This also extended to a ‘EV/PHEV Town Concept’ model project in the country where initial demand, expanded infrastructure and public awareness of EVs and PHEVs would be targeted in selected regions as the first phase of the movement.
Concurrently, programmes involving car sharing (motor pooling) and EV taxis were operating in 13 large cities reduce CO2 emissions, traffic congestion, noise and pollution. These prgrammes were planned to be spread to more cities and isolated islands.
Mitsubishi Motors’ mission statement also targeted a 20 per cent reduction of CO2 emissions by factories around the globe with the introduction of highly efficient equipment and renewable energy.
In terms of world expansion of the newly introduced Mitsubishi innovative Electric Vehicle (i-MiEV), Mitsubishi Motors was planning to boost sales to 19,000 units for the financial year 2011 (FY11), almost twelve-fold from 1,600 units sold in FY09.
Also in the pipeline were plans to introduce a PHEV model this year and a hybrid model by 2013, as illustrated by the corporation’s concept vehicle PX-MiEV II Eco-SUV, a sports utility vehicle which was unveiled at the Tokyo Motor Show last year.
With a target pure EV cruising range of more than 50 kilometres (km), combined hybrid cruising range of more than 800km and target fuel efficiency of more than 60km per litre, the concept would potentially be translated to a production model to be launched this year, according to Yatabe.