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Mitsubishi Electric Car

On Sale in US Date: January 2012. Price: $27,990 – $33,230. Main competitor: Nissan Leaf.
Powertrain: 49 kw (66 hp) AC synchronous electric motor; 16 kwh lithium-ion battery pack; Rear wheel drive.
EPA Fuel Economy/Range: 112 mpge; 62 miles.

What’s New in the United States Version Mitsubishi i-MIEV

The Japanese domestic market version of the i has been on sale in Japan as the Mitsubishi electric car i-MiEV since July 2009. Mitsubishi had to beef up the Mitsubishi electric car  i-MIEV for the U.S. market and to meet more stringent North American crash regulations. Adding 4.3 inches through the longitudinal center of the i pushes the width to 62.4 inches. This makes the Mitsubishi electric car better suited for average bodied Americans.

It’s still almost two inches narrower than a Fiat 500, but the gains in width translate into more elbow room than the Japanese version. Additional front and rear crash structure adds about nine inches of overall length but unfortunately no additional interior room. The North American Mitsubishi electric car i-MIEV weighs in at a feathery 2500 pounds despite carrying 88 steel-encased lithium-ion batteries tucked away under the floorboard.

Mitsubishi Electric Car is Smooth and Quite

If you’ve ever driven an electric golf car, you probably remember the jumpy throttle tip-in, a characteristic of electric motors producing maximum torque at zero rpm. The Mitsubishi electric car  i’s Smooth Start Control electronically regulates torque from a stop to eliminate jolting starts, making the car feel more polished than most electric cars or as commonly known electric vehicles.(EVs)

Mitsubishi Electric Car
Mitsubishi Electric Car

While the i’s electric propulsion is advanced driving it requires no special training or knowledge. Turning the conventional column-mounted key activates the electric engine. Putting the car in drive lets the motor get to work. Steping on the amp pedal moves the Mitsubishi electric car out smoothly and off you go.

The lack of gear changes or a traditional powertrain noise adds refinement as you move smoothly along. There is no wind noise to compete with your favorite music artist. The electrically assisted power steering feels light to the touch, as do the vacuum-assisted front disc and rear drum brakes. There is no intake manifold vacuum to power the brakes as on the JDM gasoline-powered i-MIEV. Mitsubishi uses an electric vacuum pump for boosting power duties on the electric vehicles. The seamless transition between regenerative and mechanical braking deserves praise. Unfortunately, the lack of acceleration excitement is going disappoint palpable those with a need for speed; 0-60 mph clocks in at about 15 seconds. 81 mph is the top speed. The Mitsubishi electric car is not a speed demon but is great for driving around town.

Mitsubishi Electric Car Amazingly is Comfortable for Four

The North American i-MIEV has a larger beam that makes the already-tall interior genuinely comfortable for four. Stretching an interior is hard work and expensive, but leave it to the Japanese to find a solution. Mitsubishi engineers devised a clever cost-saving move that frames the dash from the skinnier left-hand drive version sold in Europe with another layer of dashboard. The result is an extra width that appears like it was designed into the Mitsubishi electric car from the get-go.

Sporty Driver’s Won’t Like This i-MIEV Characteristic

Understeer and squealing front tires greet drivers who push the Mitsubishi electric car hard into corners. The car’s staggered tires (145/65R15 front, 175/65R15 rear) and softly sprung chassis make the plowing worse, a trait that is disappointing. Driving fun is diminished for those who like to blast around sharp curves. Otherwise driving the Mitsubishi electric car i-MIEV is a fun experience.

Mitsubishi Electric Car Scores Well at the Bottom Line

With a price that is beneath the Nissan Leaf by more than $5000 and superior efficiency and performance Mitsubishi’s North American version of the Mitsubishi electric car i-MIEV vehicle may attract a broader audience than only urban-dwelling environmentalists who consider personal transportation a horrible necessary evil.

The EPA estimates drivers will spend only $495 dollars to drive the i-MIEV 15,000 miles. Since the Mitsubishi’s i-MIEV has a practical range of only 62 miles driving the car and 15,000 miles would be a challenge. That distance would vary quite a lot depending on how you drive the car. 15 minutes of hard driving at Mitsubishi’s Nagoya proving grounds did away with four of the 16 energy bars in the Mitsubishi electric car i’s “fuel” gauge.

However, Mitsubishi’s management is fixated on helping the world become a safer and greener place. The practical changes they’ve made to the Mitsubishi electric car i-MIEV will make the $27,990 (before a $7500 tax credit) car more enticing for American drivers and driving environs which often involves traveling on expressways.

Undoubtedly the Mitsubishi electric car will continue to improve in drivability and range. Within a few years electric charging stations will probably be widespread across the United States. This factor alone will accelerate the acceptability and even desirability of driving an electric car.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

D knight May 12, 2013 at 3:15 pm

You say your electric car is “smooth and quite”, quite what?

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