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2012 Mitsubishi iMiEV (Michael Bettencourt for The Globe and Mail)
2012 Mitsubishi iMiEV (Michael Bettencourt for The Globe and Mail)

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Mitsubishi's battery life mystery Add to ...

Mitsubishi Canada now acknowledges that it doesn’t know how long the battery in its i-MiEV electric car will last.

Canadian and American Mitsubishi officials provided widely varying estimates about how much power the battery will lose over time in each country at the i-MiEV’s media preview earlier this month.

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At the event, Mitsubishi Canada officials suggested that the i-MiEV would lose about 20 per cent of its overall capacity – and therefore range – after two years, and closer to 30 per cent after five years. But according to Bryan Arnett, manager of EV product strategy for Mitsubishi Motors North America (U.S.), the company expects that its batteries will only lose 20 per cent of their original capacity after 10 years, according to a report by Greencarreports.com.

A request for clarification on why the longevity estimates differed so widely between the U.S. and Canada elicited this response:

“Data has not been supplied to us by Mitsubishi Motors Corporation (Japan), and the battery’s longevity has not been fully confirmed in Canadian climate testing,” said a short company response.

The i-MiEV’s computer would automatically adjust for battery degradation in its fuel “tank” display and Mitsu Canada officials suggested owners likely wouldn’t notice the reduced range unless they continually measured the distance to empty with their trip meter.

Nissan has acknowledged that part of the reason the all-electric Nissan Leaf came to market in Canada a year after being introduced in the United States is because the company needed to overcome additional technical issues in cold-weather climates.

Suzuki, VW in a nasty dispute

The rocky relationship between Volkswagen and Suzuki appears to be getting uglier, and more legally contentious, after Suzuki released a letter last week that its lawyers sent to VW, demanding it “remedies various breaches” of its 2009 alliance agreement by providing the Japanese company access to VW’s hybrid technology.

However, a VW spokesperson told Agence France-Presse this week that it has always followed the contract’s rules, and suggested that VW is looking at all legal options in response to Suzuki’s lawyer letter. However, VW has stayed firm to the line that it is not looking to sell the 19.9 per cent share of Suzuki it bought in 2009, even though Suzuki went public in September about its desire to remove itself from the alliance, and the 1.5 per cent share in VW it owns, worth about $1-billion (U.S.).

Financial analysts are already calling a split likely, with Moody’s commenting in a credit report this week that the “likely end” of the alliance will hurt VW’s push for growth in Asia, in particular in Japan and India.

Canadian singer music to Toyota’s ears

To highlight its Digital Power Station (DSP) low-cost audio systems, Toyota Canada had multi-platinum Canadian artist Edwin record an original song called Winter Sunshine for the company, and placed it on the firm’s site.

The company is obviously hoping the former I Mother Earth lead singer and current Crash Karma crooner will attract attention to the Bongiovi Acoustics system, which has now moved to Scion as well as most Toyota vehicles. The system is a combination of a digital signal processor and amplifier, encased in a small box mounted in the dashboard that creates surprisingly clearer sound using the same factory speakers as before.

Introduced as a low-cost audio upgrade on mostly mainstream Toyota cars, at around $400 installed, the system promises to rival the sound quality of luxury car sound systems with 10 to 14 speakers. Toyota Canada is the first auto company in the world to offer this technology, produced in conjunction with Tony Bongiovi, well-known music producer and sound engineer (and yes, the guy who brought his second cousin Jon into the music business), as well as local Canadian supplier AVG.

A demo of the system as well as a couple of free Edwin songs can be found at toyota.ca/dps.

Camaro ZL1 to make 580 hp

The baddest of the bad ass Chevrolet Camaros will officially be unveiled at the Los Angeles auto show in mid-November, and GM is calling it the most powerful production convertible on the planet.

The Camaro ZL1 coupe was first shown at this year’s Chicago auto show, but with few details and no power figures released. Recently, word has come down that this car will use a version of the supercharged 6.2-litre V-8 currently under the hood of the Cadillac CTS-V and Corvette ZR1. Here, it makes 580 hp, and a massive 556 lb-ft of torque, all SAE rated to the strictest standard.

Like all new Camaros, the ZL1 will be built in Oshawa, Ont., making it the most powerful automobile to be produced on Canadian soil. GM boasts that the ZL1 coupe, which is set to go on sale in the spring, lapped the Nürburgring's Nordschleife course in 7:41.27 minutes.

Its mountainous power is sure to boost the Camara SS price up the cost scale, but it will still be far below exotic 2+2 heavy hitters with less power like the Porsche 911 Turbo S and V12 Aston Martin DB9 Volante.

The convertible ZL1 is scheduled to arrive late next year, as a 2013 model.

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