'i-MiEV', the world's first mass-produced zero-emission minicar, is all set to debut on the Japanese market next month, which may usher in a new age of driving without petroleum fuel.
According to a report in The Asahi Shimbun, developed by the Mitsubishi Motors Corporation, the car has neither an engine nor a muffler and does not need an internal combustion engine because it runs on a motor charged with electricity.
Mitsubishi's sales target for the i-MiEV in fiscal 2009 is a modest 1,400 units.
The company will sell the vehicle only to corporate and government customers until April 2010, when the general public will also be able to buy this green car.
The company hopes to sell 15,000 units during fiscal 2011.
The i-MiEV's per-kilometer cost of electricity is only 3 yen, considerably less than the price of gas for the same distance.
However, the car itself is certainly not cheap. It would cost about 3.2 million yen if the buyer qualifies for a government subsidy for green-car owners.
The i-MiEV can travel 160 kilometers on its lithium-ion battery pack, but it will take 14 hours to fully recharge the battery from a 100-volt household power outlet.
The i-MiEV's merits are remarkable.
It emits no carbon dioxide (CO2). Even when taking into account CO2 emissions at the power plants that generate the power needed for charging the car, it emits only about one-third of the CO2 of a gasoline minicar.
The report said that the i-MiEV certainly reduces the "original sin" of automobiles that have polluted the environment with exhaust, and helps to curb global warming.