Electric Mitsubishi i-MiEV starts trials

The biggest ever trial of electric cars in the UK has now started, and the Mitsubishi i-MiEV is the first vehicle to hit the roads.

It has a top speed of 81 mph, a range of 100 miles and can be trickle charged from flat to full in seven hours at any UK three-pin socket – costing under £1 for a full charge. In addition the i-MiEV can be fast-charged from flat to 80 per cent in just 30 minutes using the quick charger.

This is the first stage of the UK-wide government-funded Technology Strategy Board user trials for electric and ultra low emission vehicles – and has begun in the West Midlands. The keys to 25 Mitsubishi i-MiEVs (Mitsubishi innovative Electric Vehicle) are being given to independent drivers to test over the next 12 months by the CABLED (Coventry and Birmingham Low Emission Vehicle Demonstrators) consortium in Centenary Square, Birmingham.

The CABLED consortium will manage the project after being confirmed in June as one of eight successful teams in the £25 million Technology Strategy Board Ultra Low Emission Vehicle Demonstrator Competition. The consortium brings together the expertise of 13 West Midlands-based organisations within the engineering, automotive manufacturing, academic, public and infrastructure sectors, and is led by global engineering consultancy Arup.

The project is worth £15 million and will trial 110 vehicles on the roads of Birmingham and Coventry. UK-wide, 340 vehicles are being tested using funding from the Technology Strategy Board. As well as being the largest, CABLED is the first consortium to begin vehicle trials and has recently gained further public backing thanks to £2.5 million funding awarded by Advantage West Midlands (a regional development agency).

Neil Butcher, Arup’s project leader of the CABLED consortium said: “Less than 1% of the vehicles registered every year in the UK are electric and most of these are currently used in London. We think that by 2020, low carbon cars will be commercially viable, and it’s important that we start to understand the public’s reaction and provide the necessary infrastructure to prepare for this.

“Today’s launch is a landmark occasion for the UK automotive industry, and this project will begin to examine the points where the vehicles meet the built environment – energy generation, battery charging and driver behaviour. This is an important first step on our roads to a low-carbon future.”

Drivers selected for the trials of the Mitsubishi i-MiEV and 85 other vehicles were chosen through an application process led by Coventry University. The other five manufacturers that will roll out vehicles in 2010, include:

* Smart ed x 40 electric cars

* Tata Indica x 25 electric car

* Microcab x 10 Hydrogen fuel cell powered vehicles

* Land Rover Range_e x 5 plug in hybrid vehicles

* LTI x 5 electric taxis

The consortium also benefits from a firm commitment to developing the necessary infrastructure to co-ordinate the trials from E.ON, Birmingham City Council and Coventry City Council, who will provide electrical charging points for vehicles across the two cities as well as access to the University of Birmingham’s hydrogen refuelling station. During the trials, Aston University will be analysing and reporting its conclusions from the data generated by the vehicles.