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TOKYO, Aug 8 (Reuters) - Mitsubishi Motors Corp (7211.T) said on Friday it would partner with U.S. utilities Southern California Edison (SCE_pe.A) and Pacific Gas and Electric Co (PCG_pa.A) to test its zero-emission electric car for use in the United States.
The two separate agreements follow Mitsubishi Motors' field tests for its small, four-seater "i MiEV" with seven utilities in Japan over the past two years. Mitsubishi Motors, one of the few major automakers with a working prototype of a mass-production electric car, plans to start selling the car in Japan next summer.
"The joint partnership (with PG&E) will yield valuable data and a greater appreciation of the practicality of an all-electric vehicle in California," Corporate General Manager Tohru Hashimoto said in a statement.
Through daily use, the two partners will gauge the viability of a pure electric car, which typically has a short cruising range due to battery power limitations. Charging time is also an issue, as the i MiEV requires more than half a day to fully charge using a regular electric socket at home.
"PG&E has been researching the benefits of electric vehicles since the nineties," said Andrew Tang, senior director at PG&E. "Partnering with automakers like Mitsubishi is vital to developing compatible infrastructures."
Southern California Edison said the collaboration with Mitsubishi Motors would complement its work on plug-in hybrids and next-generation batteries, including with Ford Motor Co (F.N).
Nissan Motor Co (7201.T), Japan's No.3 automaker and another major advocate of pure electric cars, last month formed a partnership with the U.S. state of Tennessee to study the infrastructure needed to support the roll-out of its yet-to-be developed electric cars due in 2011.
Nissan also has a similar deal with Portugal that would create a national recharging network, while its French partner Renault SA (RENA.PA) has tie-ups with Israel and Denmark. (Reporting by Chang-Ran Kim; Editing by Chris Gallagher)