Peugeot Partners with Mitsubishi to Market i-MiEV Electric-Cars in Europe

Japan’s number four automaker, Mitsubishi Motors Corporation, has penned an agreement with PSA Peugeot Citroen to develop a line of electric cars to be marketed in Europe by the end of next year.

In a joint statement issued last Friday, Peugeot CEO, Philippe Varin and his Mitsubishi counterpart, Osama Masuko, agreed to develop the electric vehicle based on Mitsubishi’s i-MiEV model which the Toyota-based automaker unveiled last June.

The all electric vehicle will be sold in Europe under the Citroen and Peugeot nameplates and is expected to be in production by October 2010.

The agreement is designed to help the automakers compete with Toyota, whose Prius gas-electric hybrid remains the top selling hybrid worldwide and with GM, which is slated to unveil the Chevy Volt electric vehicle next year.

Trading of Peugeot’s stock rose 6.6% to 20.13 on the news.

In a message to investors, M.M. Warburg senior analyst Marc-Rene Tonn said that Peugeot “needs a partner to strengthen profitability. Any move into that direction should be welcome.” Tonn recommended Peugeot as a “hold” with a target price at 23.

Peugeot’s spokesman, Laurent Cicolella, said, “We’re sticking to the strategy Varin outlined in his July 29 speech, when he said we won’t rule out opportunities for external growth to help us reach our goal of becoming a global player.”

The latest agreement between Peugeot and Mitsubishi is seen as a logical expansion of existing partnerships between the automakers. The companies currently share the platforms for their SUVs and have partnered to build an automotive assembly plant in Russia according to Cicolella.

The i-MiEV is a four passenger, zero emissions, all-electric vehicle equipped with an onboard charging system that permits recharging from any standard electrical outlet. The automaker claims that charging times using a typical household outlet range from approximately seven hours using a 200V to around 14 hours when charged using a 100V outlet. The company estimates that charging times when using quick-charge technologies, currently being developed by electric utility companies, automakers and governments worldwide, will be around 30 minutes.

Mitsubishi also claims that the i-MiEV’s permanent magnet synchronous electric motor offers acceleration speeds of up to 30% faster than comparable gas powered mini vehicles.

Right-hand drive versions of the i-MiEV are expected to begin selling this year with a left-hand drive configuration slated to be in showrooms in 2010. Cicolella expects Peugeot and Citroen to sell 25,000 i-MiEVs annually throughout the European market.

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