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Mitsubishi first to mass produce EVs

Japanese automaker Mitsubishi Motors began the first deliveries of its i-MiEV in July to customers in Japan, making it the first major player to begin mass production of electric vehicles (EVs). While initial production this year will be limited to 2,000 and on a lease-only basis, Mitsubishi is taking orders from retail customers who are willing to pay around US$33,000. As the company ramps up production, exports to Europe will follow in late 2010 and to the U.S. in 2011 or 2012. In Europe, Mitsubishi will also build EVs for PSA Peugeot Citron, which already sells two SUVs based on Mitsubishi’s Outlander and shares a factory with the Japanese carmaker in Russia. Mitsubishi will aim to increase the distances its EVs can be driven on a single charge to 200 km, compared with the i-MiEV’s current range of 160 km. Another idea under consideration is to offer customers a choice of ranges when they buy the car, including cheaper models that travel shorter distances on a single charge. (July 20, 2009)