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Electric Car Wars?

Posted by: Kenji Hall on June 5, 2009

The launch of Honda’s Insight gas-electric hybrid car in February led to talk of a war against Toyota’s new Prius. The rivalry has boosted hybrid sales. Last month, hybrids accounted for 12% of Japan’s new-car market, a higher proportion than the 4% share hybrids had here last year. (In May, the new Prius and Insight ranked first and second in sales in Japan, respectively.)

But what about electric vehicles?

This week, Fuji Heavy Industries began selling the Stella plug-in electric minicar under the Subaru brand for 4.72 million yen ($48,650). Also this week, Mitsubishi Motors said it would sell its i MiEV compact electric vehicle for around 4.6 million yen ($47,400) to businesses beginning in July and to ordinary consumers in April 2010.

But don’t expect electric cars to get anywhere close to the sales numbers that hybrids are now enjoying. Both companies will only be selling limited supplies for now (Subaru expects to sell 170 cars this fiscal year, while Mitsubishi could sell up to 1,400). And despite government subsidies of around 1.38 million yen ($14,200) per car they’re still pricier and smaller than a hybrid. What’s more, neither car goes very far on a single charge: Subaru’s Stella goes just 90 km (55 miles) on a single charge, while Mitsubishi’s i MiEV can travel 160 km (100 miles). Both models are mostly limited to a short commute to the office or a quick dash to get milk at the grocery store.

Both can be recharged by plugging them into an ordinary electric socket at home. Subaru’s tiny four-seater takes 8 hours to charge using a standard 100-volt socket, five hours at 200 volts or, with a supercharger, around 15 minutes (to 80% battery capacity). Some Japanese builders are even marketing homes equipped with plugs in the driveway for electric vehicles.

Reader Comments


June 5, 2009 2:20 PM

These companies are all crazy. NO ONE is going to spend that kind of coin for a compact car, electric or otherwise. Same problem even with Chevy Volt, which is bigger yet cheaper.. but still ot cheap enough!
Loo, India's REVA is selling their cars in London, have sold thousands. WHy? Cuz they cost about 12 k!Better still, Tata is releasing their e-Indica in NORWAY this September..just watch the pricing and you'll see why the future of cars is INDIA!


June 7, 2009 3:55 AM

Chapter 11 recent GM and likely others will settle, and developments will take place. EV initiatives are very encouraging, and would emerge as developments in microprocessors and the personal computer industry. The EV's as commented by Rob June 5, are true. Tata launched Nano and will repeat the same with the EV's. Nano car for Rs.100,000-00 so Nano EV shouldn't be more than Rs.200,000-00 and Chinese EV should be $3000-00 compared $47,000 averaged by Japanese. Millions of cars needed in India, Pakistan, China. Production of hybrid should be started everywhere India, Pakistan, China. EV's manufacture is like assembling a desktop PC and a DIY like thing to be assembled at home in 30 minutes ready to drive if the batteries are charged. The battery technology, manufacture should be subsidised to promote EV's. Subsidies in EV's will result in the civil aircrafts subsidised by Airbus Industrie. Many emerging nations as India, Pakistan are importing costly gasoline with erratic price behaviour. Tata should consider an EV for $3000-00 and a hybrid $4000-00 immediately.


June 15, 2009 12:53 PM

China is quietly developing EV strategy both at home and abroad. Now China streets are already swarmed with E-bikes (,8599,1904334,00.html)and one Chinese EV firm partnered with a US firm already sold more than 3000 NEV's which look more like traditional cars than mini EV's. Apart from BYD plug-in hybrid which Warren Buffet invested in,there are several other Chinese firms which are making progress in the field. One of EV's can run 240 miles on one charge and the its body is of regular size.(

Faraz Khan

October 20, 2009 4:05 PM

You are correct about the DIY nature of electric cars. And it has already started in Pakistan - I driving a 72v converted EV these days, saving over 90% in petrol costs:

There is a blog dedicated to the conversion:

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