Japanese automakers are entering racing models of their electric and hybrid cars in endurance tests in Japan and across the world, to test their technologies and drive sales.
Mitsubishi Motors Corp. on May 18 unveiled the i-MiEV Evolution, a high-performance version of its i-MiEV electric vehicle that will compete in the famous Pikes Peak International Hill Climb in Colorado in July.
While it uses the same motor and battery as the regular i-MiEV, part of the Evolution’s body is made of light and extremely strong carbon fiber composite material.
Mitsubishi has been out of racing for more than three years and is entering the Colorado event for the first time. Nissan Motor Co.’s Leaf electric vehicle took part in last year’s climb.
Hiroshi Masuoka, a 52-year-old driver with victories in the Dakar Rally to his name, will drive the i-MiEV.
Toyota Motor Corp. also plans to enter a hybrid vehicle in the 24 Hours of Le Mans race in France in June. The vehicle is equipped with a 3.4-liter engine and a specially designed hybrid system.
"By having a hybrid vehicle compete in such a harsh race, we hope to demonstrate its great performance," a Toyota representative said.
From July, Honda Motor Co.'s CR-Z hybrid vehicle will be running in the Super GT, a Japanese stock-car racing series.
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