2009 Mitsubishi i MiEV Sport Air

Mitsubishi's innovative Electric Vehicle (MiEV) range is growing. We've already seen the Mitsubishi I MiEV Sport at the 2007 Tokyo motor show, driven a prototype of the I MiEV hatchback at last year's New York auto show, and now there's a version of the Sport with a large, removable translucent panel in the roof at the 2009 Geneva motor show.

Mitsubishi gave the I MiEV Sport Air a second-generation powertrain, which produces 80 hp and 169 lb-ft of torque (the first-generation system made only 63 hp and 133 lb-ft of torque) that drives the rear wheels. A pack of second-generation lithium-ion batteries tucks below the rear floor and provides the juice. Mitsubishi hasn't released any estimates on the range of this new powertrain, but we know the battery pack is 330 volts.

The design is as futuristic and efficient-looking as you'd expect and it differs little from the original I MiEV Sport seen at the 2007 Tokyo show. Obviously an electric city car with a removable roof has a limited market, but Mitsubishi is showing the flexibility of its electric car platform and reminding us all green cars don't have to be appliances. With 169 lb-ft of torque and a 2160 lb curb weight, the I MiEV Sport Air isn't going to be a rocket, but it should be entertaining enough behind the wheel thanks to the near-silent propulsion and instant torque of the electric motors.

A vehicle like this would look at home on the roads of Europe or Japan, but it's still a stretch to think of something this tiny and electric cruising the streets in the U.S., especially since Mitsubishi hasn't yet confirmed the U.S. will receive an I MiEV at all.

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