Japan To Get First Electric Cars

Car-maker Subaru has announced it will launch its battery electric Stella mini car in Japan in July, becoming the first major automaker to bring an electric vehicle to market this decade.

The Stella EV, equipped with a lithium-ion battery pack and a 47kW motor, has a range of about 56 miles and a top speed of 62mph. Subaru says its vehicle takes 15 minutes to charge at a quick-charging station or five hours at a 200 volt AC outlet.

Between July 2009 and March 2010, the end of its financial year, Subaru expects to sell 170 units. The price will be JPY 4.73 million ($49,000) and the automaker says buyers will get a $14,300 rebate from the Japanese government.

Soon after Subaru’s announcement, Mitsubishi released details of its i-Miev electric car, which it will begin selling in Japan in late July. Initially, however, the Mitsubishi vehicle will be available only to corporations and government groups. Sales to private buyers will begin in April 2010. Mitsubishi intends to produce 1,400 i-Mievs for corporate and government lessees, selling them at JPY 4.38 million ($45,300). Japanese buyers will qualify for the same $14,300 subsidy for electric vehicles mentioned above.

The i-Miev is also equipped with a lithium-ion battery pack and a 47kW electric motor, but claims a range of 100 miles. Recharging the batteries from a quick charger takes 30 minutes, while recharging from a 200-volt outlet takes seven hours. Regenerative brakes help recharge the battery pack during driving.

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