MITSUBISHI HAS A PROUD RECORD OF PIONEERING AUTOMOTIVE INNOVATION
Mitsubishi Motors Corporation (MMC), which traces its roots back to being an aircraft manufacturer known for its advanced technology, has continued to be a trend-setter in terms of new developments on the automotive and industrial fronts. Mitsubishi has also been very adept at transferring advanced technological developments from concept cars to production models and this trend is set to continue.
A recent example of the company’s technological ability which was exhibited at the Geneva Motor Show earlier this year is the CA-MiEV, a concept four-seater electric car that is seen as an indicator to a potential production car in the not-too-distant future. The clay model of the futuristic, stylish CA-MiEV is displayed on the Mitsubishi stand at the Johannesburg International Motor Show.
Interest in all electric and hybrid vehicles has had a slow start globally. The comparatively small volumes of the Prius are still the largest selling hybrid in the world, but account for less than 0.1% of any market share. The all electric offerings from Nissan and others are yet to gain any traction. Notwithstanding these challenges, Mitsubishi believes that as much as 20% of its production in 2020 will be electric vehicles.
MMC has already taken significant steps in this direction as demonstrated with the all-new Outlander Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV). Mitsubishi is now exploring possibilities in all manner of electro-mobility engineering, from Pure Electric (EV), to Hybrid Vehicle (HEV) and Plug-in Hybrid Electric (PHEV).
Mitsubishi has had extensive practical experience with a pure electric vehicle because the i-MiEV, which was the forerunner of the CA-MiEV, has been on the market in a number of countries since 2009 and this has provided valuable customer feedback.
The company believes the CA-MiEV takes electric cars a step further, out of a mostly urban environment to make it a practical alternative to petrol or diesel cars for the daily commute, as it has a 300km range on a fully charged battery, compared to 100km for the i-MiEV.
The integrated power unit includes the motor, inverter and charger to help with energy management, packaging and weight reduction.
The CA-MiEV is also substantially bigger than the i-MiEV even though it shares the same wheelbase at 2 550mm.
The 300km range is seen as sufficient for a week of driving by an average European motorist, as research shows the average distance covered by a motorist in Europe in a year is 14 000km, according to ACEA.
The CA-MiEV is environmentally friendly in that it has no exhaust emissions, which is important in countries where air pollution by vehicles is a major problem.
The CA-MiEV also has a resonant induction charging system which means it can be charged wirelessly for added convenience. The system operates by parking the car over an electromagnetic field and that magnetic field wirelessly induces voltage and current in a secondary coil, which is in the car. The process charges the battery without having to plug in a cable and this convenient method of recharging is seen as a potential attractor of potential buyers to electric vehicles.
A number of the car’s functions can also be controlled by a Smartphone.
As Mitsubishi Motors’ leading concept car, the CA-MiEV, can be seen as a declaration of intent by the Japanese manufacturer and this shows the increasing importance being placed on advanced engineering and design by this company.
Pebble-sleek, the arrow-shaped Concept CA-MiEV brings a degree of sleek style to small car design that flows through to the rear sloping roofline at the rear. It is full of dynamic detailing, from the boomerang-sculpted front and rear lights to the rising side character line enclosing the rear wheel arches to create a strong sense of forward motion. Its aerodynamic co-efficient of only 0.26 is outstanding for a small car.
Connectivity is becoming an increasingly important feature in cars for buyers and here the CA-MiEV is at the leading edge. Infrastructure permitting it features telematics features such as automatic e-mailing in the case of theft, automatic e-calling in the event of an emergency, remote control to start the motor, operate a panic alarm and lock the doors, while data transfer of items such as maps from a Smartphone to the in-car system is possible, as well as remote energy monitoring or pre-heating for EVs and PHEVs, which are already features of the Outlander PHEV.
While the CA-MiEV may not go into production this very attractive concept car is proving an ideal way of showcasing the various technologies that Mitsubishi intends to introduce over the mid- to long-term across its range of global products.