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06 March 2012

Mitsubishi to challenge 2012 Pikes Peak Hill Climb with i-MiEV prototype

Words by Christopher Kho 
In a sport dominated by 900 horsepower purpose-built monsters, Mitsubishi Motors Corporation (MMC) is taking on the 2012 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb challenge in an all-electric production - a first in the brand’s history. Based on their road-going hatchback, the i-MiEV prototype is heading to the slopes of Colorado in the U.S. on the 8th of July to race against the clock to the heavens, driven by no less than legendary two-time Dakar Rally winner Hiroshi Masuoka
Describing the Pikes Peak-bound i-MiEV prototype as “based on the production model” is actually a bit of a misnomer. You see, judging from the sketches from Mitsubishi, this prototype looks absolutely nothing like its road-going counterpart. The main cabin has been narrowed to fit just one occupant, while its wheelbase and track width extended so much so that it should more or less look like an odd Le Mans prototype Frankenstein.
Mitsubishi has not released full specs on their latest hill climb machine, though they did say that the i-MiEV prototype will be using the same EV components from the production unit - presumably its 63 horsepower single permanent magnet synchronous motor and 16-kw-hr lithium-ion battery pack. But because those numbers are rather unflattering for what is supposed to be a rallycar, we're suspecting that Mitsubishi is fitting in more than one motor in their racer.
The i-MiEV prototype's participation in Pikes Peak is not a demonstration run of Mitsubishi's technology, but is actually part of their on-going research to enhance the durability and reliability of their future electric vehicles. Still, that shouldn't stop them from chasing after the EV record of 12 minutes and 20 seconds, set last year by the Yokohama EV. In comparison, last year's winner, Monster Tajima in his 900 hp Monster Sport Suzuki SX4, did the 20-kilometer race to the 4,300 km summit in just 9 minutes and 51.278 seconds, whereas the Nissan Leaf completed the course in a leisurely 14 minutes and 33 seconds.