Mitsubishi Motors plans to mass-produce electric cars in 2010, while launching a brand-new model of a sport utility vehicle this autumn and a mini-vehicle model in January next year, Kyodo News reported.

President Osamu Masuko unveiled the plans at a regular shareholders' meeting as part of the scandal-plagued company's efforts to regain profitability, which was badly affected by a series of vehicle defect cover-ups.

According to Kyodo News, Masuko said the envisaged electric car will have a lithium-ion battery, emitting no gas and requiring only one-fifth the energy to drive compared with hybrid petrol-electric cars.

The electric car will be modeled on the mini-vehicle called i, also a brand-new model, and have an ''in-wheel motor'' system in which a motor is directly attached to the wheels, according to a company official. The car will make its first test run next year, the official tp;d the news agency.

With the SUV Outlander and the mini-vehicle i both for the Japanese market, as well as other new lineups including the new sedan Eclipse debuting in May for the U.S. market, the company hopes to swing back into the black in the business year to March 31, 2007 with a group net profit of 8 billion yen as targeted under its revival plan announced in January.

According to its earnings report for fiscal 2004 through this March, the automaker's group net loss more than doubled to a record 474.79 billion yen partly because sales continued to plunge as a result of its defect cover-ups, Kyodo News said.