Mitsubishi looking for new batteries suppliers in order to support EV growth

Article by Christian A., on July 15, 2011

As Mitsubishi Motors Corp. is set to start a massive product campaign of electric cars and plug-in hybrids, it wants to make sure that the supply is sufficient by sourcing more lithium ion power packs from outside. The carmaker currently produces electric-vehicle batteries via an in-house joint venture.

Yoshikazu Nakamura, Mitsubishi's global head of EV strategy, said that the company is considering lithium ion batteries from several firms including Toshiba Corp. and South Korean brands.

The Mitsubishi i-MiEV is set to be launched this November in the United States. Mitsubishi uses batteries from Toshiba for its new Minicab compact commercial van and a more affordable, shorter-range variant of the i that will be available in Japan.

The standard i-MiEV is equipped with a lithium ion battery produced by Lithium Energy Japan, a joint venture between Mitsubishi and GS Yuasa Corp.

Mitsubishi is planning for the global launch of eight electric or plug-in hybrid vehicles by 2016 as part of a drive to be considered as a global EV leader. Nakamura said that Mitsubishi is looking for other battery options for the expected surge of volume.

Toshiba batteries are compatible with EVs that have a short range, while Lithium Energy Japan batteries are suitable for vehicles that go on longer distances. The problem is that the joint venture doesn’t have the capacity for the swift expansion.

Mitsubishi is assessing other batteries such as those produced by Korean firms. Nakamura didn’t identify these companies but it’s believed that the list includes LG Chem and Samsung SDI.

Mitsubishi Motors first launched the Mitsubishi i-MiEV -- MiEV is an acronym for Mitsubishi innovative Electric Vehicle – in Japan, first to fleet customers in July 2009 and to general public on April 2010. The Japanese carmaker started selling the i-MiEV in Asia, Australia and Europe in 2010.

S customers, however, are still waiting for the arrival of Mitsubishi i-MiEV, which North American version of the i-MiEV was unveiled at the 2010 Los Angeles Auto Show.

Compared to the Japanese- and European-spec versions, the North American version of the i-MiEV features an enlarged body structure to offer enough space for four adults and to better meet the expectations of US consumers.

While the North American version of the Mitsubishi i-MiEV comes with all-new front and rear bumpers, the rest of its design vistually remains the same. Moreover, the i-MiEV will offer plenty of standard equipment such as airbags that could automatically detect passengers and control deployment force. Also standard are Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS), and Active Stability Control (ASC).

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