Mitsubishi Motors has chosen to center its development of next-generation electric vehicle technology on in-wheel motors and on lithium-ion batteries that the company has been working on for several years. Currently working on a test vehicle that utilizes these technologies, which it has dubbed the Mitsubishi In-wheel motor Electric Vehicle (MIEV) concept, the company also envisages their application to hybrid electric vehicles and fuel cell vehicles.
The in-wheel motor 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. For this reason, MIEV offers highly promising potential in the ongoing evolution of Mitsubishi's all-wheel control technology that is employed so successfully in the Lancer Evolution, Pajero and other 4WD models. The fact that the drive system is housed inside the wheel itself offers significantly greater design freedom and also makes it easier to locate such space-consuming components as the battery system, fuel cell stacks and hydrogen tanks used in hybrid and fuel cell vehicles.
Lithium-ion battery technology offers superior specific energy, specific power, and life over other types of rechargeable batteries and as such is expected to contribute to higher top speeds, extended cruising ranges and to greater weight reductions in hybrid and fuel cell vehicles.
Mitsubishi Motors has already started development and testing of the MIEV concept using a production compact vehicle, Colt, to serve as the rolling test bed. The Colt EV uses rear in-wheel motors powered by a lithium-ion battery system. The company is also currently developing a more powerful in-wheel motor for use in a 4WD test car. The Colt EV will be on display at the "2005 Automotive Engineering Exposition" to be held at the Pacifico Yokohama Exhibition Hall, Yokohama from May 18th through May 20th.
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