Delivering fuel to remote Russian areas can be problematic in winter

Delivering fuel to remote Russian areas can be problematic in winter

MMC Rus, the partnership between Mitsubishi Corporation, MMC and the Rolf Group, says a national energy supplier is working on establishing a Russian charging system for electric vehicles.

Mitsubishi says it is the only supplier of electric vehicles in Russia with its i-MiEV brand, while the automaker also sells its Outlander PHEV plug-in hybrid model, both of which should benefit from cooperation with Russian Grids, an electricity supplier.

"Russian Grids is a national operator, we have a strategic partnership with them," MMC Rus CEO, Andrey Pankov, told just-auto at the recent St Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF).

"It is clear there is no sense to have a charging infrastructure if there are not electric vehicles. They [Russian Grids] are working on a national charging system for Russia - we hope it will be adopted for [a] Russian standard."

MMC Rus says when it started sales of its electric vehicles, scepticism was expressed as to their suitability for the tough Russian winters, but now notes purchases in Ekaterinburg for example, some 880 miles south east of Moscow.

Siberian winters are also particularly harsh, but MMC Rus points to electric and hybrid suitability for them given periodic difficulties in delivering fuel to some of the more remote areas of the vast region.

"They have plenty of electricity, but then problems with fuel," said Pankov, acknowledging the normal 150km range could drop to around 80km in such hostile winter environments.

Pankov insisted "there is no issue in Russia with electric cars," following the introduction of commercial sales in 2011 and significantly boosted by Moscow's decision to exempt EVs 100% from customs duties.

"It provided a big impetus to the Russian market," said Pankov. "[The] more brands we have of electric vehicles here the more public electricity for infrastructure. It is a kind of chicken and egg.

"If you come to Moscow and see what is happening in the city centre - it is impossible to breathe - the electric car [is] a perfect solution for any megalopolis.

"St Petersburg is a bit better, but sooner or later, we have to take into account the growth of the market. In Moscow, electric vehicles will definitely be a success."

Pankov added the Moscow government now allowed free parking, a key marketing element for EVs in the hugely congested city.

MMC Rus also provided 70 i-MiEV vehicles to President Vladimir Putin and his team, as well as for German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, at last year's G20 summit in St Petersburg.

"For Mitsubishi i-MiEV, I don't set any goal," said Pankov. "The purpose of launching it was to show people they should not be scared."

The automaker says it has sold an accumulated 200 i-MiEVs.

In Russia, a parternship of more than 20 years with the Rolf Group has seen Mitsubishi Corporation distribute Mitsubishi brand cars through MMC RUS.

The Rolf Group provides MMC RUS with sales and servicing. Mitsubishi Motors Corporation (MMC), also started full-scale production in PCMA Rus, Kaluga, in November 2012 and plans to increase the range of products assembled locally.