Tokyo, Japan – Mitsubishi Motors Corporation has announced that it will collaborate with Southern California Edison (SCE) to test and evaluate the company’s new i MiEV electric vehicle. The i MiEV will also be tested by the Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) in a research and demonstration project.

“The small, four-passenger Mitsubishi i MiEVs will enter into SCE’s nationally-recognized prototype testing and evaluation program,” said Tohru Hashimoto, Corporate General Manager of the MiEV Business Promotion Office. “This collaboration with one of the nation’s leading utility supporters of electric vehicles will provide us technical feedback on i MiEV vehicle and battery performance, as well as vehicle connection and integration into the electrical system.”

The i MiEV has been extensively tested over the past two years with seven major utility companies in Japan. The success of the programs has led Mitsubishi to announce that it will begin selling the vehicle in Japan in the summer of 2009.

SCE hopes to help the automaker gauge how electric vehicles will most effectively connect to the smart grid of the future, and to the next-generation Edison SmartConnect advanced meters. “Southern California Edison has more than 20 years and 16 million EV miles of experience operating the nation’s largest private fleet of electric vehicles,” said Edward Kjaer, SCE’s director of electric transportation. “This new EV collaboration with Mitsubishi complements SCE’s existing work on plug-in hybrids and next-generation advanced batteries and their effective connection and control by Edison’s next-generation meters.”

The i MiEV is also expected to be added to the PG&E fleet in the fourth quarter of 2008 for real-world U.S. testing. Through daily use, the utility company will gauge the viability of using all-electric vehicles in its operations and investigate the impact of charging vehicles on the electric grid.

The i MiEV, based on the “i” gasoline-powered minicar that Mitsubishi sells in Japan, uses a 330-volt lithium-ion battery system located under the floor, which powers a permanent magnet electric motor. The i MiEV is able to offer the same level of interior space as the gasoline version, while lowering the centre of gravity for more stable handling, and its 47kW electric motor offers improved performance and quicker acceleration over the 64-horsepower gasoline version.

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