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Surging fuel prices accelerate electric car plans


Surging fuel prices accelerate electric car developments

Work on electric car research and development is being accelerated following the rapid rise in fuel costs. Mitsubishi Motors Corporation and Tokyo Electric Power Co. are to jointly develop a next-generation electric car for release in Japan as early as 2008.

It is commonly accepted that cars and phones don’t mix, but advances in mobile phone and laptop computer technology are about to generate revolutionary changes in the electric vehicle market.

Lithium-ion battery technology, commonly used for powering portable electronic devices, offers superior specific energy, power, and life over other types of rechargeable batteries and is expected to contribute to higher top speeds, extended cruising ranges and greater weight reductions in hybrid and fuel cell vehicles.

With the world facing huge increases in fuel prices, development and testing of the MIEV (Mitsubishi In-wheel motor Electric Vehicle) concept has been stepped up. A Colt EV driven by in-wheel motors powered by lithium-ion batteries, is serving as the rolling test bed. The MIEV is expected to surpass previous concept cars’ battery efficiency with a cruising range of 250-kilometres after a four hour recharge.

The MIEV’s in-wheel motors makes it possible to regulate drive torque and braking force independently at each wheel without the need for any transmission, drive shaft or other complex mechanical components that both add weight and absorb energy.

The MIEV (at under $US 18,000) promises to be a welcome relief for motorists and is expected to arrive up to two years earlier than Japanese rival Subaru’s electric minicar.

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