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Peugeot enters the electric vehicle fray

Peugeot has released further details on its iOn electric vehicle (EV) September 6, promising that the car will be available "not just for a few intrepid adventurers, but for a wide customer base."

The vehicle, which is expected to debut at the Paris Motor Show and become available at the end of the year, is the latest addition to the raft of EVs that will hit the road over the coming 12 months.

With a range of 150 km and running costs of between €1.50 and €2.00 per 100 km, Peugeot is positioning the vehicle at local governments and transport firms such as leasing and car sharing companies, with production ramping up to 50,000 iOns annually by 2015.

This means that for consumers, the best bet to drive one will be by leasing one or joining a car sharing firm - Peugeot says that it already has 15 deals in the pipeline and is in the running to supply the Autolib' electric car sharing scheme in Paris, scheduled to roll out in 2011.

Private customers will be able to get their hands on it too eventually though, with Peugeot touting consumer-friendly features such as a quick charge unit that can reach 50 percent in only 15 minutes, a Bluetooth compatible MP3 and CD audio system and a €499 "all-inclusive mobility" offer that provides a five-year battery warranty.

To make the brand's electric vehicle range obvious, Peugeot has also rolled out a vehicle-specific badge for the first time in its history, a pearlescent white and chrome lion that separates it from the ordinary lion.

When the concept version of the iOn went on show at the Frankfurt motor show last year, journalists and bloggers were quick to compare the vehicle to the Mitsubishi i-MiEV (in reality, it's a slightly modified version of the i-MiEV, as is the Citroen C-Zero, also due for a late 2010 release).

Then, the retail price of the i-MiEV was about €48,000, compared to an expected (although still unconfirmed) price of under €30,000 for the Peugeot iOn and Citroen C-Zero, leaving the brands with a significant pricing gap for virtually the same vehicle.

With Mitsubishi now saying that the European-spec i-MiEV will be set at around the €33,000 - €35,000 mark and the Nissan LEAF at roughly the same point, it looks as if there will be some highly-charged competition in the electric car market by the end of the year.