Oregon Institute of Technology has always been “kind of a big deal”. Songs have been written, rivers have been named and famous artists have found inspiration amongst the elegant and cultured halls of the Harmony campus. Although some have called Oregon Tech the MIT of the west, namely me in a recent blog post, I would argue the school is more comparable to an established and multi-cultured Oxford. The prestige of being associated with such an institution is precisely the reason we now find an electric car resting near the backdoor with the brand name Mitsubishi.
Loaned to the students for test driving, the Mitsubishi “i”, is a 100% electric car slated for U.S. release in early Fall 2011. The car features a lithium-ion battery pack with an average range of 85 km per charge. Connected to a household charger at 110 volts and 15 amps, the car can be fully charged in 13 hours. At 220 volts and 15 amps, the vehicle can be expected to halve the charging time – 6 hours. With a three phase 200 volt, 60 kW “quickcharger”, the car can be charged 80% in 30 minutes. The “quickcharger” option has yet to be standardized to my knowledge. Different voltages and amperages may be used for higher power “quickchargers”, but the 30 minute range for a 80% charge will be likely.
Other than the ability to fly by blind pedestrians without their notice, (which brings up an important safety issue!), the Mitsubishi “i” at OIT was apparently manufactured by drunks! They put the steering wheel on the right side! Oh yeah, we have the Japanese version. It’s still drivable, although a student turned the windshield wipers on, when he wanted the left turn signal, during his first test drive.
John Grieser and I were also granted permission to joyride the “i” to the nearest Cha Cha Cha. Besides the blank stares we encountered, what stood out most during our epic, futuristic three mile journey was the DC induced torque of the machine. Pressing down the peddle produces an almost immediate acceleration response. Buzzing around the Clackamas streets has never felt so light and easy.
Tomorrow will be test drive day for the OIT students. To promote our prestige and to inspire more happy songs to be sung about us, I suggest to the other students – give it a spin.