Monday, July 26, 2010

Driven: Mitsubishi i-MiEV

You don't just expect to see a Mitsubishi i-MiEV everywhere. In fact, in the U.S., you don't expect to see it anywhere, at least not yet. But this will soon change. Targeting a fall 2011 release, the i-MiEV (innovative Mitsubishi Electric Vehicle) will be available to government and corporate agencies first, then to the public. Mitsubishi had the little i-MiEV subcompact available for short test drives at the Run to the Sun event, and it was certainly an interesting vehicle to drive.

Mitsubishi i-MiEV - Subcompact CultureUnlike the forthcoming Nissan Leaf or Chevrolet Volt, the i-MiEV is a kei car. The test model was straight from Japan—note the right-hand drive layout (assume North American models will be driven from the left side). The interior is Spartan but comfortable, at least in the front seat, and features all of the amenities you'd expect in any usual car. The rear seat, however, didn't have much leg room, even for my not-so-huge 5' 7" frame. Short of this, the car seemed very practical and usable for daily commutes or hauling cargo.

Driving the car is really easy. Simply shift its automatic transmission in to "D" and go. There is also an eco mode for increased efficiency. Power isn't abundant, certainly adequate for city jaunts. I didn't get the i-MiEV up past about 40 mph, but it did feel confident at such speeds. Speed demons take note—Mitsubishi says the i-MiEV tops out at 81 mph. Being this was the first right-hand drive vehicle, each time I went to use the turn signal, I switched on the wipers; the signals are on the right side of the steering column.

Mitsubishi i-MiEV - Subcompact CultureUnder the Japanese 10-15 urban driving pattern, the i-MiEV will do about 80-100 miles on a charge. Charging takes 12–14 hours on 110V, 6–8 hours on 220V, and 20 minutes for an 80% charge (or 1 hour for a full charge) at a three-phase Quickcharge station.

Mitsubishi estimates prices to be below $30,000 before government incentives.

i-MiEV would make a great runabout due to its four doors, ability to seat four (so long as you aren't too tall), and halfways decent cargo area (for a subcompact). Frankly, I think the i-MiEV looks cooler than the Nissan Leaf and Chevrolet Volt, too. Like all fully electric vehicles, the big questions is whether or not people will actually shell out the substantially higher prices for a practical, safe EV. However, the i-MiEV certainly seems like a solid, practical EV choice.

Mitsubishi i-MiEV - Subcompact Culture


gokartride said...

I am officially envious of your test drive!!

D2M said...

lol, when we lived in Japan it was tough the first few months to use our turn signals instead of window wipers.
Every time I visited the states I had to reteach myself! And then, of course, I'd come back to Japan and find myself using the window wipers again.
The other thing is getting in the wrong side of the car. I still do that every now and again, even though we've been stateside for over 6 months. :)

Anonymous said...

It seems like if they just sold a gas model with a stick they would really have something.