November 14, 2013 / 3:27 PM / 6 years ago

Mitsubishi Motors cuts Japan electric car price by up to $9,100

TOKYO, Nov 14 (Reuters) - Mitsubishi Motors Corp has slashed the price of its i-MiEV electric minicar in Japan by up to $9,100, aiming to boost sluggish sales as makers of electric vehicles face slower-than-expected acceptance of the technology.

Japan’s sixth-biggest carmaker, which started selling the i-MiEV in 2009, said on Thursday it was dropping the price of its top of the range i-MiEV by around 25 percent, or 900,000 yen ($9,100), to 2.9 million yen.

With government subsidies, the model can be bought in Japan for around 2 million yen, it said.

“The main purpose of cutting the price is to strengthen our ability to sell these cars,” a Mitsubishi Motors spokesman said.

Mitsubishi Motors also cut the price of the entry level i-MiEV by 190,000 yen to 2.5 million, which with subsidies can be bought for about 1.7 million yen.

Electric vehicles have not caught on as fast as some expected, due to concerns over their driving range, the lack of a charging infrastructure and customer resistance to paying too high a price premium over similar-sized gas-powered cars.

That has prompted carmakers to cut prices in Japan and the United States.

In just over four years since the vehicle first went on sale, Mitsubishi has manufactured some 30,000 i-MiEVs. The car is rebadged and sold by PSA Peugeot Citroen as the iOn and the C-Zero.

Mitsubishi is still betting on the electric powertrain technology and is aiming for electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids to account for 20 percent of the vehicles it produces by 2020.

Earlier this month, Mitsubishi Motors President Osamu Masuko admitted the carmaker had not been able to achieve the results it had first hoped for in electric vehicles.

“But I have been repeating that the electric vehicle technology has not necessarily been rejected. In the future, they are likely to be well accepted, depending on the model,” he said.

Mitsubishi and Nissan Motor Co recently announced plans to expand a joint venture to develop a new small car including an electric version.

Nissan, maker of the Leaf electric car, also said on Thursday it would start selling its second all-electric vehicle, a commercial van called the e-NV200, in Japan in the financial year through March 2015.

The vehicle will eventually be sold globally, it said. Last year Nissan also cut the price of the Leaf in Japan. ($1 = 99.4150 Japanese yen) (Editing by David Holmes)

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