By Michael Kanellos
The electric car phenomenon rolls on. Mitsubishi (MMTOF.PK) announced Thursday that it will bring its i MiEV all-electric car to the U.S. The car will likely appear in Oregon first: the state of Oregon along with utility Portland General Electric are helping Mitsubishi by agreeing to build charging stations.
Mitsubishi did not put deadlines on when it will bring the cars to the states, but it could be sooner rather than later. It will start releasing the cars in Japan in July. Shipping in July will mean that Mitsubishi will become the first company to ship a “practical” electric car.
The company has a point there. Right now, you can buy a cheap electric car from Zenn that tops out at around 25 miles per hour or a $109,000 Tesla Roadster, but there’s not a lot of options in between.
Mitsubishi is focusing on mid-range cars like Nissan, but it also has high-end sporty prototypes like the cars from Tesla Motors and Fisker Automotive. (Fisker is a plug-in hybrid but mostly runs on electricity.) And, like Nissan (NSANY), it will initially sell to government agencies and fleet car buyers. These sort of cars don’t leave town much on road trips so the limited range of electric cars are less of a problem.
The i MiEV runs on a lithium-ion battery pack that can be charged in seven or so hours on a 240-volt line. High-speed charging could accomplish this task in less time, but good luck finding an outlet.