Mitsubishi Motors Corp launched two new versions of the i-MiEV electric car in Japan on Wednesday, slashing the price on one and extending the range on the other to appeal to more consumers in the nascent zero-emission field.
Mitsubishi Motors became the first major auto maker to mass-produce pure electric cars with the egg-shaped i-MiEV and leads the segment so far with 10,000 vehicles sold globally since mid-2009. It has exported another 4,000 electric cars for sale under PSA Peugeot Citroen's brands.
Japanese rival Nissan Motor Co , which wants to dominate the electric vehicle (EV) market with its French partner Renault SA , has sold 8,500 Leaf electric cars globally since its launch in December 2010.
In the i-MiEV's first remodelling, Mitsubishi Motors will offer an entry-level "M" version, with a sticker price of 2.60 million yen ($31,000), down from 3.98 million yen ($47,600), and a shorter range of 120 km, compared with 160 km for the previous model.
After Japanese government subsidies, the M will cost the buyer 1.88 million yen ($22,500), Mitsubishi Motors said.
"Costs have really come down dramatically," President Osamu Masuko told a news conference, adding that batteries – the main reason for the relatively high price of EVs – had more than halved in price in the last two years.
"We will try to keep the price down even when the subsidies go away," he said.
The higher-grade "G" version carries a suggested retail price of 3.80 million yen and can go 180 km on a full charge measured under a stricter Japanese fuel economy reading.
Mitsubishi Motors plans to sell 6,000 i-MiEVs in Japan in the business year to next March 31 and 25,000 EVs globally, including those produced for Peugeot-Citroen.