Some may bemoan the fact that the famous Pikes Peak hillclimb in Colorado is now a paved course, but it's opened up the hill to more vehicles than ever before.

That now includes electric cars--which is why, this July 8, Mitsubishi is fielding a race-prepared version of its 'i' urban electric car.

Though on the outside there seems to be little of the original car left--the track has been widened significantly and the vehicle now looks longer and lower, judging by the renders--the i-MiEV Prototype is still electric under the skin.

Mitsubishi says the vehicle will use the same EV components as the production car. This means that data from the runs up the hill can be analysed and used to help improve the carmaker's future electric and plug-in vehicles.

It's unclear whether the car will receive heavy drivetrain upgrades, though judging by the huge changes to the bodywork, we'd say it's likely--and as such, could be gunning for the 12 minute, 20-second run by AC Propulsion's electric racer at last year's event.

The car is set to be driven by Dakar Rally veteran Hiroshi Masuoka. He's no stranger to winning with Mitsubishis - his 2002 and 2003 Dakar Rally wins were achieved in Mitsubishi Pajero and Pajero Evolution models.

Electric cars aren't the only unusual vehicles to have tackled the Race to the Clouds. Back in 2010, an autonomously-driven Audi TT-S made the run in 27 minutes. Last year saw a production-spec Nissan Leaf also tackle the hill.

Mitsubishi i-MiEV Prototype for 2012 Pikes Peak Int'l Hill Climb

Mitsubishi i-MiEV Prototype for 2012 Pikes Peak Int'l Hill Climb