TOKYO, JAPAN --- Mitsubishi Motors Corp. (MMC) announced it has signed a letter of intent with Southern California Edison (SCE) to work together to test and evaluate the new i MiEV electric vehicle.

"The small, four-passenger Mitsubishi i MiEVs will enter into SCE's nationally recognized prototype testing and evaluation program," said Tohru Hashimoto, corporate general manager of the i MiEV business promotion office of Mitsubishi Motors Corp. "This collaboration with one of the nation's leading utility supporters of electric vehicles will provide us technical feedback on i MiEV vehicle and battery performance, as well as vehicle connection and integration into the electrical system."

Extensive testing with the i MiEV has been occurring over the past two years with seven major utility companies in Japan. The success of these programs prompted Mitsubishi Motors to begin selling the electric vehicle in the Japan market in the summer of 2009. Through this program, SCE hopes to help Mitsubishi Motors gauge how electric vehicles will most effectively connect to the smart grid of the future and the next-generation Edison SmartConnect advanced meters.

In addition, the collaboration may explore future requirements for vehicle communication and connection, helping enable new customer values associated with home energy management and control.

"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."

The i MiEV electric vehicle, which is based on Mitsubishi's "i" gasoline-powered mini car on sale in Japan, adapts a zero-emissions electric drivetrain. A durable 330-volt lithium-ion battery system is located under the floor deck and powers a permanent magnet electric motor. With this packaging, the i MiEV can offer the same level of interior utility and space as the gasoline version while lowering the center of gravity for more stable handling.

The 47-kW electric motor offers improved performance and quicker acceleration over the 64-hp gasoline version, the company said. The advanced lithium-ion battery is developed by the Mitsubishi Motors Corp. / Mitsubishi Corp. / GS Yuasa joint venture company, Lithium Energy Japan. 

Southern California Edison is one of the nation's largest electric utilities, serving a population of more than 13 million via 4.8 million customer accounts in a 50,000-square-mile service area.