The Mitsubishi i-MiEV is an odd looking little car and I had my doubts that I would find very much to like about it.
Much to my surprise, I came away from my few days of test driving it with a grudging respect for the plug-in electric vehicle. In fact, it may be the perfect option for short-hop, around-town commuting.
With a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of $29,125 for the base ES model before a federal tax credit of $7,500 and other state financial incentives, the Mitsubishi i (at about $6,075 less than other electric cars) is the most affordable mass-produced electric vehicle available in the United States.
And, while you may argue that the design is less than eye-catching, it does allow for a surprisingly roomy cabin and excellent handling, stability and safety. It also is very low maintenance and the “refueling” costs are low.
With its 49 kW electric motor, 88-cell lithium-ion battery pack and onboard charger, the Mitsubishi i is rated by the EPAat 126 mpg equivalency in city driving and 99 mpg on the highway, equivalent to a 62-mile range. It takes about 22 hours to fully re-charge the batteries using a standard outlet, but just seven hours if you have a dedicated 240v Level 2 EVSE charger, and an 80 percent charge takes less than 30 minutes at a Level 3 quick charging station.
The batteries are housed in a waterproof stainless steel safety cell and fortified platform beneath the rear seat. That platform is based on Mitsubishi’s innovative RISE (Reinforced Impact Safety Evolution body) energy-absorbing safety technology and is designed to protect the batteries in the event of a crash.
The Mitsubishi i-MiEV already has a track record, having received excellent crash test ratings from numerous governmental safety and regulatory agencies around the world.
Following its successful launch in Japan, the i-MiEV entered the Hong Kong and Australian markets in 2010, then Germany and the United Kingdom in 2011. It is now available in many countries across Europe and more than 10,000 units have been sold. In some European markets, a rebadged i- MiEV is available from French auto manufacturers Citroën (C-ZERO) and Peugeot (iOn).
The next-generation U.S. version of the i-MiEV is even roomier than the original and has improved safety features, thanks to a 4.3-inch wider track and redesigned front and rear bumpers, a Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) and an Acoustic Vehicle Alerting System (AVAS) to warn pedestrians of the approaching EV.
Standard equipment includes a fourspeaker, 100-watt AM/FM/CD audio system with MP3/WMA playback capability; Electric Power Steering; air conditioning; a vehicle security and immobilizer anti-theft system; advanced airbag system; fourwheel anti-lock brakes (ABS) with Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD), and Active Stability Control (ASC) with Traction Control Logic (TCL).
Ron Beasley is the automotive editor for Miami’s Community Newspapers. He may be contacted by calling 305-662-2277, ext. 261, or by addressing email correspondence to LetsTalkCars@aol.com