Update: Mitsubishi is planning to begin testing of its i-MiEV electric cars in cooperation with power company Southern California Edison (SCE). The tests will be used to gauge how electric vehicles will connect to the future electric grid and 'smart' meters being developed by SCE. In addition, the collaboration may explore future requirements for vehicle communication and connection, including home energy management and control. The new program will begin in the summer of 2009.

"Southern California Edison has more than 20 years and 16 million EV miles of experience operating the nation's largest private fleet of electric vehicles," said Edward Kjaer, SCE's director of electric transportation. "This new EV collaboration with Mitsubishi complements SCE's existing work on plug-in hybrids and next-generation advanced batteries and their effective connection and control by Edison's next-generation meters."

Daimler's Smart brand is considering similar testing with its upcoming electric vehicles, and BMW is already converting 500 Minis for EV operation to comply with California's tough emissions laws.

Original: Mitsubishi is expected to be one of the first major carmakers to launch an all-electric vehicle when the compact i-Miev enters mass production next year. The car will initially be sold in Japan and is expected to cost roughly ¥4 million (approximately $37,496), however government subsidies could reduce the price to around ¥3 million.

The car was original slated to be leased on a small scale to government and business groups next year and not go on public sale until 2010. The Nikkei reports that the car’s retail launch has been brought back a year in light of smoother-than-expected preparations for mass production and the favorable sales conditions created by rapidly increasing fuel prices.

The i-Miev will be Mitsubishi's first electric vehicle, and will feature a 63hp (46kW) electric motor powered by 330-volt lithium ion batteries. This will provide the car with a driving range of roughly 100 miles and should take about seven hours to charge from a household power outlet. In an attempt to curtail long charge times, a 'quick-charge' pack is also being developed by power companies, which will see the i-Miev's battery being charged to 80% of its capacity in just 35 minutes.

Mitsubishi hopes to sell up to 2,000 i-MiEVs in the first year and plans to expand this to around 10,000 units by 2011.