Mitsubishi Launches Solar-Powered Charging at North American Headquarters

By · July 08, 2011

Mitsubishi Quick Charger height="186" />

On July 7, Mitsubishi Motors North America launched a solar-powered recharging station at its headquarters in Cypress, CA.

“This is not an academic test project,” said MMNA president Yoichi Yokozawa at the ceremony. “It can be ordered for public production.”

The station includes two 110-volt charging ports, one 220-volt port, and one CHAdeMO quick charger. It will be open to the general public for use free of charge during MMNA business hours, and can be used by any compatible EV.
The “i”, as the i-MiEV is now known in the U.S., can be 80% recharged in 25 minutes on the CHAdeMO charger, said Yokozawa. A 20-minute charge is good for about 43 miles, he said.

The solar array consists of 96 175W photovoltaic modules produced by Mitsubishi Electric. The DC Quick Charger was produced by Eaton Corp. Rogers Electric installed the equipment and supporting electrical infrastructure. The station itself was designed by California Green Designs.

The entire station cost $130,000; the DC Quick Charger accounted for about $65,000 of that, said Moe Durand, manager of product communications for MMNA.

The investment is one sign that Mitsubishi is betting big on electric vehicles. Indeed, “we believe EVs and hybrids will basically dominate our future in the U.S.,” Joe Delello, MMNA’s director of electric vehicle operations, told after the event.

The i-MiEV will go on sale in the U.S. in November. It is already available in Japan and Europe and Mitsubishi has sold about 10,000 since the EV’s launch in mid-2009.

On July 6, the automaker announced the 2012 i-MiEV will be offered in several versions. The “economy” model of the 2012 lineup, dubbed the M, is nearly 35% less expensive than the 2011 i-MiEV. It has a range of 120 kilometers, compared to 160 kilometers for the 2011 model. The G version can travel up to 180 kilometers on a charge, and is still 4.5% less expensive than the 2011 i-MiEV. (Neither of those version will be sold in the U.S. We have a special version due to different safety regulations.)

Mitsubishi Quick Charger

DC Quick Charger by Eaton Corporation.

The smaller capacity lithium-ion battery in the “M” will be produced by Toshiba Corp. The battery for the “G” will be produced at Mitsubishi’s joint venture with GS Yuasa Corp.

The cost reduction was due to a nearly 50% drop in the price of the battery in the last two years, Mitsubishi Motors president Osamu Masuko said.
Asked how the cost reduction was achieved, MMNA president Yokazawa told it came from larger volume production. Initially, only about 10 batteries a day were produced, “almost manually,” he said.

That will rise to as many as 200 a day (fully automated, I’m sure) if Mitsubishi meets it target of selling up to 30,000 EVs in the next business year, said Yokazawa. Further cost reductions from volume increases alone would be harder to achieve, he said.

“From here it involves volume increases and technological advancements,” said Yokazawa.

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