Mitsubishi i MIEV
This is the Mitsubishi I model, and it is frankly the first pure electric car we have tested. It is impressive in some ways, but in others, well, it’s just plain weird.
First, the basics. The I is called the I-Miev in Japan, and that’s what the badge says. I don’t know why it’s different here or what in the world that means, but there you are.
The American version is a little bigger than the Japanese one, and therefore a bit roomier. In fact, it’s really not a bad ride.
The electric motor isn’t under the hood, but under the back seat. It provides the equivalent of 66-horsepower. 0-60 can be measured in days.
The remarkable thing about the I is that it’s completely unremarkable. The ride is good, air conditioning is good, and the stereo is great. It has electric windows and everything.
But, unlike a Prius hybrid or an extended range electric like the Volt, when the battery is drained, you are stuck. That means while driving, you become absolutely fixated on the battery gauge.
I have a 20-mile commute to work. Round trip, that eats up almost exactly 2/3rds of the battery.
That also means you can’t do much running around during the day.
The battery takes a full 22 hours to recharge fully, versus 8 or 9 for a Volt. That means you really don’t fully recharge the lithium-ion battery overnight.
That cuts down your commuting range.
The Volt gives you 35-40 miles before the tiny gas engine kicks in to recharge the battery on the move, and therefore gives you over 300 miles in driving range.
A Prius gives you slightly less remarkable mileage, but you simply never worry about anything.
So, what you have here is a city car. This is an around-town grocery getter. It is goofy looking, and attention-getting at the same time.
It is advanced, but slow, futuristic, but limited.
And, with the cool stereo and navigation system and some other doodads, it’s $35,000. A Volt is roughly the same, a Prius 5-7-grand less.
And both of those cars can go more than 66 miles.
So, Mitsubishi has made a remarkable little city car that costs too much. First generation technology usually does, but explain that to a Mitsubishi dealer. He just wants the thing to sell.