Selling Like Hotcakes: Battery Suppliers for Mitsubishi's i-MiEV to Boost Production by 50%

mitsubishi imiev electric car detroit 2010 photo

Photo: Michael Graham Richard
Coming to the U.S. and Europe in 2011
It looks like Mitsubishi doesn't want to miss its chance of becoming a bigger player in the automotive market. After all, electric cars represent a kind of fresh start for the industry, and companies with a head-start in battery technology, power electronics, charging infrastructure and management software, etc, have a chance to grab market share from bigger companies that are dragging their feet (you reading this, Toyota?). Mitsubishi's hopes rest on the i MiEV urban electric car, and so far the news about it have been rather good.
mitsubishi imiev electric car detroit 2010 interior photo

Photo: Michael Graham Richard

In 2009, Mitsubishi announced that thanks to demand being higher-than-expected, its suppliers would build a second li-ion battery factory for the i MiEV electric car. Now they're increasing battery production again because of still higher-than-expected demand:

GS Yuasa, Mitsubishi Motors and Mitsubishi Corp. are partners in Lithium Energy Japan, a joint venture set up to develop, manufacture and sell large lithium ion batteries. With batteries for 2,000 cars produced in fiscal 2009 at its Shiga Prefecture factory, the initial plan was to boost productivity in order to make batteries for 6,000 cars in fiscal 2010. This has now been upwardly revised to churn out enough for 7,000 cars.

Meanwhile, GS Yuasa itself will manufacture batteries for the i-MiEV at its Kyoto factory from year-end. The plan is to make enough for 2,000 cars in fiscal 2010, which when combined with the output from Lithium Energy Japan adds up to batteries for 9,000 cars--50% more than the original fiscal 2010 production plans. (source)

The i MiEV goes on sale in Japan in April, with the rest of the world to follow (Europe and the U.S. in 2011).

Since the vast majority of a car's life-cycle impact comes from the fuel it burns (on the order of 80-90%), an electric car like this has the potential to make a pretty big difference, especially if it is powered by 100% clean electricity (sign up for Green Power if your utility offers it). It's still better to walk, bike, or take public transit, but as long as there are cars (and let's not kid ourselves, they can be useful and probably aren't going away any time soon), they should be as green as possible.

Via Nikkei (sub req), Green Car Congress
More Mitsubishi i MiEV
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Mitsubishi i MiEV Electric Car to be Sold as Citro├źn and Peugeot in Europe
Photos of Mitsubishi i MiEV Electric Car from New York Auto Show

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