January 27, 2009 Mitsubishi has just announced i MiEV SPORT AIR concept, which will be shown at the Geneva Motor Show in March. The i MiEV SPORT was announced just prior to the Tokyo Motor Show in 2007 (announcement/show report/gallery), and we were very excited about a car weighing 970kg with 107 kW (143.5 bhp) and a whopping 680 Nm of torque – compare that with the 2009 Tesla’s 185 kW, 375 nm and 1238 kg. Now a brief cryptic press release indicates that the new i MiEV SPORT AIR will be a "proper sports car", inferring that the i MiEV SPORT was not. So we’re expecting some pretty special performance to match the stunning good looks and the transparent removable top – let’s hope the car’s aircon doesn’t use all the extra power.

Firstly, let’s examine the press release. It reads: “Whilst the idea of an electric sports car is not new, not much thought has been given by mainstream manufacturers to the proposition of a proper sports car as an electric vehicle (EV)… until now.”

“Blending its sporting heritage with leading expertise in the development of the EV, Mitsubishi Motors is providing a clear new look on the world, in more ways than one. The clear removable top of the i MiEV SPORT AIR will be premiered at the forthcoming 2009 Geneva Motor Show.

“Taking a step beyond being merely ‘green’, this all-electric zero CO2 emission sports concept builds upon the fundamentals of the EV by marrying: * the powerful acceleration and high torque inherent to electric motors * the safe driving dynamics that stem from i MiEV’s lithium-ion battery pack located within its long wheelbase and the low centre of gravity.

“The i MiEV SPORT AIR is a new-age “pocket rocket” and signals the direction in which the Mitsubishi sports EV may take in the future.” ENDS

That’s the total info we have at this stage, and when you take out all the stuff we already know about electric motors, there’s not much left to go on, other than the transparent roof and the inference that there’s a lot more horsepower coming in this car than we saw in the i MiEV Sport.

At the 2005 Tokyo Motor Show Mitsubishi showed a Lancer Evolution MIEV with four 50kW in-wheel electric motors, so we don’t expect it will have any problems gazumping Tesla’s horsepower figures, if it hadn't already done so with the 2007 SPORT, at least in real world, on-road conditions where speed limits apply. Nearly twice as much torque and 25 percent less weight would see the original i MiEV Sport seriously outperform the Tesla everywhere but a racetrack. Indeed, should it ever opt for absolute sporting potential, it could double Tesla’s power without much trouble.

The most exciting prospect of the vehicle though is Mitsubishi’s long term development of all wheel drive control systems where the precise regulation of power at each individual wheel opens the door to creating a vehicle dynamics control system way beyond anything available right now.

Regardless of whether the i MiEV SPORT AIR has a lot more horsepower or not, we’re still very excited about the vehicle.

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