The 41st Tokyo Motor Show in October looks set to lift the veil on the first wave of Japanese electric cars we’ll actually see in mainstream distribution, so it’s incredibly exciting to see what will be rolled out as we are entering the pre-announcement period for the show. Mitsubishi’s MiEV (Mitsubishi innovative Electric Vehicle ) lineage gets two new offspring concept cars – the PX-MiEV (PX stands for Plug-in hybrid crossover) and the i-MiEV CARGO. The CARGO in particular looks like it will fill an immediate need for emission-free delivery vehicles in the world’s most congested cities and, not surprisingly, although it’s classed as a concept, the company is currently accepting pre-orders for delivery in April 2010.

Mitsubishi Concept PX-MiEV

50 km/liter Plug-in Hybrid

The hybrid-drive Mitsubishi Concept-PX MiEV uses two permanent magnet synchronous motors to drive the front and rear wheels in conjunction with a 1.6L DOHC MIVEC gasoline engine which can power the front wheels as well as work as a generator. The concept is able to automatically balance the hybrid drive combination to suit driving conditions and its smart control system (dubbed MiEV Operating System) "selects the optimum drive mode through integrated control of the EV components and the gasoline engine as well as controls optimum electrical charge and output in response to remaining battery energy through constant monitoring of the drive battery."

The result is impressive fuel economy "in excess of 50 km/liter" according to Mitsubishi, and to add to its versatility, a "power supply mode" enables battery power to be used for running supply domestic appliances or as an emergency power back-up in case of emergency.

The Concept PX-MiEV’s different drive modes are:

EV mode: designed for low to middle vehicle speeds, this mode uses the battery to power the front motor. The system will automatically detect situations where more traction is needed like snow or rain and switch to four-wheel drive.

Series hybrid mode: When the battery begins to run low, reaches a level, the gasoline engine kicks in to act as a generator and supply power to both electric motors.

Parallel hybrid mode: This mode sees the gasoline engine (which is more efficient at higher speed) used directly to help drive the wheels. The electric motors are brought online as well when greater stability or higher acceleration are required.

Regenerative mode: When slowing down or cruising downhill, the regenrative mode is activated to reclaim kinetic energy from the wheels.

Charging mode: The Concept PX-MiEV uses either a 100-volt or a 200-volt domestic supply or a high-power quick-charging station.

Power supply mode: When parked in the garage, the PX-MiEV becomes a back-up domestic power source that can be used to run home appliances. The 100-volt AC auxiliary socket in the rear luggage compartment would also makes the PX-MiEV a handy addition to your camping weekend.

Drive system

The Concept uses electronic four-wheel drive controlled by Mitsubishi’s S-AWC system which is designed to deliver the optimum front/rear drive torque split. The system also incorporates E-AYC (Electric-powered Active Yaw Control), which controls left/right torque split at the rear wheels and the degree of deceleration energy recovery, ASC (Active Stability Control) and ABS (Anti-lock Brake System) components.

Cosy design

Aiming for a simple, uncluttered design with a cocochi-interior (“cocochi” is a pun on the Japanese word for "cosy"), the PX-MiEV features LED lighting inside and out, a newly-developed metal color for the body and a long raking windshield to deliver improved aerodynamics. The windshield blocks UV-A radiation and uses heat-reflecting glass keep the interior cool, while the body paint is heat-reflective.

The cocochi-interior includes four are individually air conditioned seats covered in upholstery that deactivates allergens, breaks down VOC's (volatile organic compounds) and kills bacteria.

Active safety technologies

New active safety technologies showcased on the concept include a multi-camera system that enables the driver to see every side of the vehicle and a "Driving Safety Support System" which communicates with roadside optical beacons to alert drivers of potential dangers on the road in real-time.

The Mitsubishi Concept PX-MiEV also supports the Advanced Safety Vehicle 4 (ASV4) project being promoted by the Road Transport Bureau of the Japanese Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism.

There's also a camera facing the driver which monitors eye movements to determine their level of alertness and warns him or her - through audible, visual, vibrational and even olfactory warnings - if it detects they are getting tired.

The Concept also features electronically-controlled air suspension that delivers three ride height modes to improved stability and make it easier to get in and out of the car.

Mitsubishi Concept i-MiEV CARGO

As the name suggests, the i-MiEV CARGO takes the i-MiEV front and adds a square rear to provide extensive carrying capacity which is designed to adapt to a variety of uses. The luggage compartment measures 1350 mm wide by 1180 mm deep and 1100 mm high and the floor is flat to facilitate easy loading of gear.

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