Meet mia electric

August 24, 2011 § Leave a comment

The mia electric (yes, all lower-case, like smart) is to launch at the EcoVelocity show in London next month. The mia cars made their debut at the Geneva Motor Show last year, and will be seen in the UK for the first time. Mia plans to reach a production capacity of 14,000 cars  in 2012 at its factory in Cerizay, France; 3000 orders have been taken, production started in June, and mia expects to make 4000 cars this year; UK sales start early 2012.

Mia – a French-German company which was originally part of coachbuilding firm Heuliez – is to show three versions of its Microbus. There’s a standard three-seat short-wheelbase model, the slightly longer mia L (four seats) and mia box van (a 1500-litre cargo capacity). Designed by Murat Günak, former head of design at Volkswagen, they feature a central driving position which allows the driver to get in and out on either side; the rear passengers thus have plenty of legroom as well, and there’s space on the dash to mount a tablet computer and iPod.

Günak says: “As a father of four I wanted to pursue a new, sustainable path towards environmentally-friendly mobility of the future. We started with a blank piece of paper and asked ourselves the same question over and over again: what does a customer really want to be mobile in the city? Our conclusion was a compact-yet-spacious microbus that’s well organized and single-mindedly focused on urban transportation.”

Design partner David Wilkie, the former design director of Bertone, adds: “Working on the mia project was like reinventing the car itself. It hasn’t been designed to look swoopy and fast, it’s designed to be practical and likeable. A lot of cars are derivatives of mainstream cars but this is all new and perfect for big cities. It will undoubtedly become harder, and maybe even illegal, to drive petrol cars in downtown urban areas, so electric city cars like the mia have enormous potential.”

All three mia models (which weigh 750-759kg)  have an 18kW rear-mounted motor, giving a top speed of 68mph. Range  is 120-130km, and a full charge takes five hours, but the lithium-phosphate batteries can take short top-up charges without any detriment. A ten-minute charge gives an extra 6km.

Pricing is still hefty, for a vehicle so small, however. The mia electric starts from £22,000 – after the £5000 government subsidy is taken into account – though incentives do include exemption from the London congestion charge, free road tax, 0% BIK tax for company car users and of course, big savings on fuel. There’s a three-year warranty for the car and its batteries, which can be extended to five years.

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