The shift towards technology partnerships to more effectively develop electric vehicles seems to bring new alliances by the week. Now PSA Peugeot Citroën and Mitsubishi Motors Corp. (MMC) have announced that they are to embark on a joint feasibility study on an extended technical collaboration in the field of electric powertrains.
Both companies believe there are growing and significant market opportunities for OEMs that warrant significant monetary and technological investments. The PSA/MMC program is scheduled initially to extend over “several months,” said a joint statement, covering the development, manufacture, and use of an electric powertrain for small urban vehicles. To step up the viability of electric vehicle projects and accelerate market introduction, the companies agreed that cooperation on electric vehicle development and production would be mutually beneficial.
The cooperation on electric-car technology forms part of PSA’s Strategy and Ambition plan (2010-2015), which has been formulated to support the French group’s commitment to the development and introduction of environmentally friendly cars. PSA claims to be the largest global manufacturer of electric vehicles to date, with more than 10,000 units sold, and has particular expertise in electric powertrains.
MMC has signalled its electric vehicle strategy, notably with the development of the i MiEV (Mitsubishi innovative Electric Vehicle), which is based on the “i” minicar. The electric car is slated for production, with sales starting initially in Japan in 2009, but with the possibility of international expansion into Europe and the U.S.
In keeping with other companies, MMC is also focusing on lithium-ion technology. It has established Lithium Energy Japan, a joint venture founded in partnership with GS Yuasa and Mitsubishi Corp. that is to supply large-capacity and high-performance lithium-ion batteries for the i MiEV. Preparation for mass production of the batteries is under way.
The announcement about the two companies’ collaboration on electric powertrains followed closely on the laying of a foundation stone by PSA and MMC for a joint manufacturing plant at Kaluga, 180 km (97 mi) southwest of Moscow. PSA has a 70% holding in the plant with MMC having 30%. It will start producing models for the Russian market from 2011—C-segment models for Peugeot and Citroën, and mid-range SUVs for all three brands.
Production capacity will be 160,000 units per annum initially but with a potential capacity of 300,000 units. The joint initial investment by the partners is 470 million.
“This project is the outcome of over a year’s intense discussions and will lead to even deeper technical exchanges,” said Osamu Masuko, President of MMC.