Manufacturers are constantly optimising the driving range for electric vehicles, and sure enough, a Japanese startup recently made a breakthrough with its first prototype. Dubbed the SIM-LEI, this cute four-seater from SIM-Drive sips juice off a Toshiba 24.9kWh lithium ion battery, and can go from zero to 100km/h (62mph) in just 4.8 seconds, with maximum speed topping at 150km/h (93mph). What's more impressive, though, is that SIM-Drive managed to squeeze out a driving range of 333km (207 miles) on a JC-08 cycle (a standardised test that simulates driving in congested Japanese city traffic), putting the LEI well ahead of its competitors on the chart -- Nissan's Leaf does about 100 miles, for instance. Sadly, mass-production won't kick off until 2013, which should hopefully let the others do a bit of catching up with this remarkable newcomer.

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SIM-Drive's SIM-LEI electric car achieves 207-mile driving range in Japan