Mitsubishi Motors and Yamato Transport Start Light Commercial Electric Vehicle Field Testing

Yamato Transport Co., Ltd. (Yamato Transport) and Mitsubishi Motors Corporation (MMC) announced that they have started field testing for parcel collection and delivery operations with the use of a prototype light commercial electric vehicle (EV) built by MMC.

Yamato Transport is working to reduce environmental burden in all areas of its express home delivery operations through a series of initiatives which include: restricting the size of its delivery vehicle fleet; introducing low-emission delivery vehicles; promoting eco-friendly driving habits; reducing driving distances and promoting modal shift*.

The Yamato Transport fleet comprises around 45,000 vehicles and the company is intent on contributing to the realization of a low-carbon society through the active introduction of next-generation eco-friendly vehicles. (As at the end of March 2010, the fleet included 11,538 low-emission vehicles, of which 4,659 utilize hybrid propulsion systems.)

MMC is the pioneering manufacturer in the field of mass-produced electric vehicles with lithium ion batteries. The company launched the i-MiEV new-generation electric vehicle to the Japanese market in July 2009 targeting corporate, government and local authorities. In April of this year MMC started sales of i-MiEV to individual owners.

The electric car with lithium ion batteries is the ultimate eco-car because its zero CO2 tailpipe emissions allow it to effectively address such environmental issues as air pollution, global warming and the shift away from oil. By adding a light commercial vehicle to its EV lineup – which, unit for unit, clock longer life-cycle driving distances than passenger cars – MMC is aiming to do its part to quickly make possible a low-carbon society.

Yamato Transport has been studying the use of commercial EVs which, of all next-generation vehicles, hold high promise for making possible a low-carbon society, and together with MMC, which has been pushing ahead the development and manufacture of electric commercial vehicles, has agreed to work in conducting a program of collection/delivery field tests using a light commercial EV.

Field tests

For the purpose of the field tests, the two companies will employ a prototype light commercial EV based on the Minicab market model but powered by the same EV powertrain and components as used by the i-MiEV. The gathering and analysis of a wide range of driving data and information through this program will allow the companies to ascertain the feasibility of using light commercial EVs in collection/delivery operations.

Beginning on October 15, the field tests will be conducted from Yamato Transport’s Higashi Kojiya 1-chome Depot in Ota-ku, Tokyo and will cover collection/delivery operations throughout the Ota-ku region.

Future prospects

Yamato Transport views the start of these field tests as a major step in putting more next-generation vehicles on the roads in the transport industry as a whole. The company has already introduced 10 i-MiEV electric cars for the purpose of training drivers in the areas of safety and eco-friendly driving habits. On the basis of the results stemming from the field tests the company will also be looking at the use of light commercial EVs in its collection/delivery operations as part of its drive to make commercial vehicles eco-friendly.

For its part, MMC will feed back the field test results into its product development as it aims to bring a light commercial EV to market as early as possible.

* Modal shift: the shifting of road transport to rail and sea in order to reduce traffic congestion and environmental pollution.

Mitsubishi Motors Corporation (TSE: 7211) was established in 1970 and is one of the few automobile companies in the world that produces a full line of automotive products ranging from 660-cc mini cars and passenger cars to commercial vehicles and heavy-duty trucks and buses. The company also operates consumer financing services and provides this to its customer base.