Mitsubishi i-MiEV completes largest public electric vehicle trial

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The Mitsubishi i-MiEV has completed CABLED (Coventry And Birmingham Low Emission vehicle Demonstrators), the largest public electric vehicle trial.

This is the largest of eight public trials taking place in the UK as part of The Technology Strategy Board’s £25m Ultra Low Carbon demonstrator programme, with the West Midlands consortium contributing 110 of the 350 vehicles trialled on the UK’s roads.

The CABLED consortium consists of 13 West Midlands-based organisations within the engineering, automotive manufacturing, academic, public and infrastructure sectors, and is led by global engineering consultancy Arup.

As well as being the largest, CABLED was the first consortium to begin vehicle trials and was also successful in gaining further public backing thanks to £2.5 million funding awarded by Advantage West Midlands (a regional development agency).

The first stage of the Government-supported UK-wide project to trial low emission vehicles started with the 25 Mitsubishi i-MiEVs (Mitsubishi innovative Electric Vehicle) in Birmingham. The zero tail-pipe emission vehicles were handed over to independent drivers in Centenary Square, on 12th December 2009.

Over the course of the subsequent 12 months, the CABLED consortium tested the vehicles in real-life conditions and, although the most up-to-date results are to be published later this month, the latest research reveals:

* An increase in driver confidence
* The first real-world analysis of the cost of ‘refuelling’
* New information on charging trends

Collating the real-life usage of electric vehicles through the data logging devices that were fitted to the i-MiEVs has allowed essential analysis to take place so that there is an understanding of the demands and requirements of electric vehicles for consumers.

The i-MiEV has proved its reliability and usefulness during the official trials. For example, the average daily mileage has been confirmed at just 23 miles, which is well within the i-MiEVs 93 mile range, and drivers used the entire speed range of the car of 81 mph, showing they are happy to drive at motorway speeds when required.

Concluding the successful trials, Mitsubishi Motors in the UK will be hosting an event on 11th December 2010 at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens and has invited CABLED trial users to join them to celebrate the end of the 12 month trial and share their experiences. Users will also be able to test drive the new European specification vehicle.

The new Mitsubishi i-MiEV was the first mass-produced electric vehicle in the world. The European Whole Vehicle Type Approved electric vehicle will be the first for the UK market and is on sale now priced at £23,990 for orders placed for delivery from January 2011, coinciding with the UK Government’s consumer incentive, the Plugged In Car Grant (PICG) of £5,000.

Mitsubishi Motors in the UK has recently announced contract hire pricing and personal payment plans starting from as little as £399 per month.

The ultra-low running costs of the i-MiEV are a key advantage over other cars, with additional incentives including:

* Fuel cost only £270 for 12,000 miles driving (£2.09 per full charge based on an average of £0.10 per kWh)
* If using an Economy 7 tariff, this cost could be as little as £135 for 12,000 miles driving (£1.05 per full charge based on an average of £0.05 per kWh)
* Low servicing costs and downtime – only approximately 4 working parts compared to over 300 in a typical internal combustion engine
* Exempt from road tax
* First year capital allowances for fleet vehicles
* Zero benefit-in-kind company car tax
* Exempt from London Congestion Charge
* Free parking in some London boroughs and cities such as Milton Keynes
* High residual values at 38% after 3 years and 30,000 miles

The West Midlands consortium, called CABLED – short for Coventry And Birmingham Low Emission Demonstrators – is made up of 13 organisations, led by Arup, a company with experience that crosses all areas that touch this project, from vehicle design to planning to infrastructure and energy. The consortium will develop and demonstrate 110 road-worthy vehicles to be trialled in the two cities over 12 months. Part funding for the project has been approved from the regional development agency, Advantage West Midlands.

Each of the six vehicle manufacturers – Jaguar/Land Rover, Mitsubishi/Colt, Mercedes Benz/Smart, Tata Motors, LTI and Microcab Industries – are contributing their own vehicles towards the low carbon scheme, which includes a mix of fully electric vehicles, plug-in hybrids and hydrogen fuel cell cars.

Electricity providers E.ON are delivering charging points for the trial with assistance from the city councils of Birmingham and Coventry.

Three of the Midland’s leading universities play a major role in the scheme with Coventry University undertaking the selection process of drivers, Aston University analysing vehicle usage data and the University of Birmingham contributing access and expertise gained from its hydrogen fuelling station, which is currently one of the very few of its kind in UK. A new hydrogen station is planned for Coventry University.

The West Midlands has the largest of the UK’s regional automotive clusters, delivering 28 per cent of output in the UK. It represents just over 1,500 companies, employs around 115,000 people and generates an annual turnover of £13 billion.

Businesses in the region are collaborating on a range of innovative projects in the whole area of low carbon and electric vehicles.

As part of the Low Carbon Vehicles Innovation Platform, £25 million has been allocated to eight highly innovative, industry-led collaborative research projects in the field of ultra low carbon vehicle development and demonstration. The competition, which culminated in June with the announcement of successful applicants, focused on encouraging the development of industry-led consortia that can deliver in bringing significant numbers of vehicles onto roads quickly. The competition winners will deliver over 340 new innovative cars on the road in eight locations around the UK in the next six to 18 months.

The government-backed Technology Strategy Board is working with business to speed up the development of low carbon vehicles, towards the point where they become a practical reality and UK business can benefit from the future commercial opportunities.

The winning projects have received a total of £25 million as part of an ongoing commitment to invest jointly with the industry to speed up the introduction of low carbon vehicles. This will support the investment already made by the consortia themselves and is the most significant step to date in the UK of a co-ordinated move towards low carbon transport.

To meet the UK’s commitment to an 80% cut in carbon emissions by 2050, the carbon output of transport – currently a quarter of all UK emissions – has to be significantly reduced. The vehicles that we drive need to be part of the solution.

The journey towards low carbon transport will not be easy but the demonstrator programme is a major step in the right direction. With over 340 cars being trialled in several regions across the UK, and with the involvement of large and small manufacturers, RDAs, local authorities, universities and infrastructure companies, it is the biggest project of its kind to date.

The Technology Strategy Board is a business-led executive non departmental public body, established by government. Its role is to promote and support research into, and development and exploration of, technology and innovation for the benefit of UK business, in order to increase economic growth and improve the quality of life. It is sponsored by the Department for Business, innovation and Skills (BIS). For further information please visit www.innovateuk.org .

Mitsubishi Motors has been developing electric vehicles since the early 1970s and selling them since the early 1990s. The i-MiEV has been developed solely by Mitsubishi Motors Corporation, and has been a sell-out success since going on sale in Japan in July this year, The 1,400 units allocated by Mitsubishi for the 2009 Japanese market have flown out the door and an impressive 900 orders have already been placed in Japan from the 2010 build allocation. European production began in October 2010 with 5,000 left hand drive i-MiEVs exported to markets across Continental Europe throughout December 2010 including 200 right hand drive units destined for the UK.

OLEV are due to announce PICG manufacturer eligibility on 14th December 2010. Price before the PICG grant is £28,990 inc VAT.