Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd exhibited "Plug-in Stella Concept," a new electric vehicle, at the G8 Hokkaido-Toyako Summit (See related article).
Fuji Heavy Industries brought five of the vehicles to the site of the summit and showcased them to government officials and journalists from all over the world. The company plans to commercialize an electric car in 2009.
The Plug-in Stella Concept is based on "Stella," the company's practical wagon-type kei car. The main characteristic of the vehicle is that it has a secondary battery in the lower part of the vehicle, securing as much interior space as the Stella.
The secondary battery used in the Plug-in Stella Concept is the same as used in "R1e," the company's existing electric vehicle. Both of the vehicles are mounted with 9.2kWh of the battery.
The weight of the Plug-in Stella Concept is 1,060kg, 140kg lighter than that of the R1e (920kg). Still, the cruising distance of the Plug-in Stella Concept is 80km, equivalent to that of the R1e. Fuji Heavy Industries realized those performances by improving the inverter control for a motor and the management of the battery, the company said.
The cells of the batteries mounted in the two cars are same. But the battery module of the Plug-in Stella Concept is smaller than that of the R1e, making it possible to put the module under the floor. Because users can fully use the car interior and trunk, they can drive the car as a normal car rather than as an electric car.
In fact, the new electric cars are used for mail delivery by post offices located around the site of the summit on a trial basis. And they apparently have been well received so far.
"The vehicle has good acceleration, and I feel perfectly comfortable driving it uphill," one of the postal carriers said.
Because the energy-regenerating system efficiently works when the car is going downhill, the battery lasts relatively long, Fuji Heavy Industries said.
The Li-ion secondary battery used in the vehicle is the company's proprietary battery, which can be rapidly charged. The battery was originally supplied by NEC Lamilion Energy Ltd.
NEC Lamilion Energy was merged with Automotive Energy Supply Corp (AESC), which was established as a joint venture of NEC Corp, Nissan Motor Co Ltd and NEC Tokin Corp in April 2007, and stopped its development operations in March 2008. The Li-ion secondary battery, this time, was manufactured by AESC with the technologies transferred from NEC Lamilion Energy.