Correspondents in the May and June issues of SILICON CHIP made comment about the Mitsubishi i-MIEV (reviewed in the March issue) and electric vehicles in general. In the main, they were critical of the performance offered and in some cases, the design.
At least some of those criticisms may have been allayed with the announcement in late May of the “SIM-LEI” a new electric vehicle design from a Japanese consortium, Shimizu In-wheel Motor-Drive, or, as they abbreviate their name, SIM-Drive. Interestingly, the purpose of the company is not to manufacture electric vehicles themselves but to provide the highest level of electric vehicle technology and information, at the lowest cost, to all those involved with electric vehicles.
The SIM-LEI is not the first electric vehicle produced. In fact, they have developed 10 electric car prototypes over a 30-year period based on in-wheel motor drive technology. SIM-Drive believe they have overcome the traditional obstacles of enclosing the motor within the wheel, mainly an increase in unsprung weight, contributing to poor ride and increased wear and tear.
The consortium planned to announce the SIM-LEI on March 29 but this was delayed – not by technical considerations but by the Japanese earthquake and tsunami. SIM-LEI, by the way, comes from the consortium name plus “Leading Efficiency In-Wheel motor”.
At the moment it’s a concept car but it is scheduled to go into production in 2013. With the backing of some pretty heavy hitters in the consortium (including Mitsubishi and engineering firm IHI), one would be excused for believing that it just might happen.