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Swedish outfit Mpart has started developing an electric Mitsubishi rally car built around R5 regulations, a prototype version of which the team hopes will be running in the autumn.
The Mirage R5e is expected to be powered by two electric motors – one driving the front wheels and another driving the rears – producing a combined 250kw or 600Nm torque.
The team has already developed a naturally-aspirated R5-spec car, which has appeared in series worldwide from the British Rally Championship to the Asia Pacific Rally Championship.
Mpart director and Mirage designer Tomas Weng said had been thinking about an electric version of the car for the last two years.
“I always had it in mind that we would produce an electric version of the car,” he said.
“It was clear to see the direction in which the motor industry was going, so it made complete sense to create a car that could be powered by a variety of different sources: petrol, PHEV [plug-in hybrid electric vehicle] and EV-only.
“One of the biggest challenges is not the construction, but the way the batteries are charged and the range that can be achieved.
“Even so, constructors have to start somewhere and it’s important that this technology is developed so that we can push forward with alternative fuels and power plants.”
Weng added: “Much of the technology is already available.
“Therefore, it’s a fairly straightforward conversion and, if everything comes together, we could have a prototype ready as early as September.
“I believe the day we see a class for 100% electric vehicle rally cars, or even an event with an entire field of electric vehicles, is not too far away.
“I realise the rally purists might not like what’s happening, but we have no choice but to embrace technology if we want our motorsport – and businesses – to survive.”
Mitsubishi has not been involved in top flight rallying since the end of 2005, and manufacturers must sanction any project with the FIA in order for it to gain homologation to compete in most international events and championships.
The Mirage remains unblessed by Mitsubishi, and is therefore not eligible to compete in championships like WRC2.
M-Sport announced earlier this year it was working on an electric version of a Fiesta R5, while Manfred Stohl’s Austrian-based team has already developed a Peugeot 207 S2000-based EV.