Tested: 2013 Mitsubishi i-MIEV

Tuesday August 27th, 2013 at 8:88 AM
Posted by: Francois

What is it

The Miev is an electric car suitable for short trips in the city. It is small and tall and is zippy around town with its high torque electric motor. It is roomy enough with 5 doors and a high roof line.

But get it on the open road and it is not happy. It’s small wheels and high wind profile make it jittery on the freeway. And the range is no joke as 60 miles is really just a best case guideline. Get on throttle or tackle some hills and this can easily drop below 50 miles. So charging stations are your friend and like the Nissan Leaf, you will get to know them and your fellow electric car drivers well.

YouTube Preview Image Video: The Charging Point Test Drive

The Japanese domestic market (JDM) version of the i has been on sale in Japan as the i-MiEV since July 2009. Mitsubishi put the popular i on a bodybuilder program to beef it up for the U.S. market and to meet North American crash regulations and make it more suitable for freeway driving. Adding 4.3 inches through the longitudinal center of the i pushes the width to 62.4 inches. It’s still about two inches narrower than a Fiat 500, but the gains in width translate into much more elbow room than the Japanese version has. Additional front and rear crash structure adds about nine inches of overall length but no additional interior room. The North American i weighs in at a feathery 2500 pounds despite carrying 88 steel-encased lithium-ion batteries under the floor.

Strengths

The North American Miev enjoys a larger beam that makes the already-tall interior genuinely comfortable for four. Stretching an interior is tough and expensive, but 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 that makes the extra width appear like it was planned from the car’s outset, which it wasn’t. Look for the telltale gap filler at the base of the A-pillars.

Weaknesses

Understeer and squealing front tires greet drivers who push the i hard into corners. The car’s staggered tires (145/65R15 front, 175/65R15 rear) and softly sprung chassis exacerbate the plowing, a trait that sucks the driving fun from the i’s otherwise cheery countenance.
And the 60 mile range really makes it difficult on US roads. Cities may be ok, but the sprawling peninsulas often require more range and buffer than 60 miles.

YouTube Preview Image Video: Making of i-MIEV

Tech Details

If you’ve ever driven an electric golf car, you probably remember the jumpy throttle response, a characteristic of electric motors producing maximum torque at zero rpm. The Miev’s Smooth Start Control electronically regulates torque from a stop to eliminate jolting starts, making the car feel more polished than some EVs.

YouTube Preview Image Video: Kelley Blue Book Review

Driving Character

While the Miev’s electric propulsion may seem advanced, driving it is simple as a golf cart. Turning the conventional column-mounted key activates the circuitry. Putting the car in drive engages the motor. Flooring the amp pedal moves the car out smoothly with linear thrust. The lack of gear changes or a traditional powertrain noise adds refinement. The electrically assisted power steering feels light, as do the vacuum-assisted front disc and rear drum brakes. (Since there is no intake manifold vacuum to power the brakes as on the JDM gasoline-powered i, Mitsubishi uses an electric vacuum pump for boosting duties on the EVs.) The seamless transition between regenerative and mechanical braking also deserves kudos. Unfortunately, the lack of excitement is palpable, with 0-60 mph clocking in at about 15 seconds. We saw 81 mph as the governed top speed.

Other Cars to Consider

Nissan Leaf

The Bottom Line

With a price that undercuts the Nissan Leaf by more than $5000 and superior efficiency, Mitsubishi’s North American version of the Miev electric vehicle may attract a broader audience than simply urban-dwelling environmentalists who view personal transportation as a necessary evil. The EPA estimates that drivers will spend just $495 dollars to drive the i 15,000 miles—though putting 15,000 miles on this car is a formidable task, as the i’s practical range is just 62 miles. And that distance must vary quite a bit depending how you use the i: Just 15 minutes of hard driving at Mitsubishi’s Nagoya proving grounds erased four of the 16 energy bars in the i’s “fuel” gauge. Still, Mitsubishi’s management is fixated on helping the world become a greener place, and the practical changes they’ve made to the i will make the $27,990 car more palatable for American drivers and driving environs.

But in the end, this car can use a few hundred pounds more of battery weight and range. The car is a bit fidgety on the freeway and the 80 mph top speed can barely get you out of some tricky merging situations.

The range is the most difficult pill to swallow of all. 60 mile round trip commutes are out of the question without a lunch time charge. And on weekend jaunts, the 60 mile range can drop to 40 miles when going through some hills and mountains. Just like a petrol car, mileage drops significantly when climbing a hill. But if you don’t make it back to the descent because of the range, then you won’t get that lost mileage back to descend the hill.

Specifications

  • Price: $27,990 – $33,230
  • Powertrain: 49 kw (66 hp) AC synchronous electric motor; 16 kwh lithium-ion battery pack; RWD
  • EPA Fuel Economy/Range: 112 mpge; 62 miles

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First Impressions: 2012 Ford Focus EV

Tuesday May 18th, 2010 at 9:55 PM
Posted by: Derek

2012 Ford Focus EV

The availability of mainstream electric vehicles (EV) is a lot closer than you realize. The Tesla Roadster (with its six-figure pricetag) and Mitsubishi i-MiEV are already being sold to the general public*. The Nissan Leaf is scheduled for a December 2010 launch and the Coda Sedan isn’t very far behind. Ford wants to be a player in the EV space and the Focus (along with the Transit Connect) are platforms being developed as pure electric vehicles.

The Ford Focus EV is based on the next-generation Ford Focus, a capable if not head-turning car. By choosing an existing platform, Ford will save the expense associated with developing a unique design. Ever since the second-generation Prius, with its iconic design, became a hit, automakers have adopted the idea that a hybrid car with an innovative high-tech drivetrain needs to scream out for attention. That’s the direction that Nissan is taking with the Nissan Leaf, due out in limited markets in late 2010. The Chevy Volt extended-range EV, the new Honda Insight, and the Lexus HS 250h are also original purpose-built designs.

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Geek Squad Shows off Mitsubishi i-MiEV at 2010 Consumer Electronics Show

Wednesday January 13th, 2010 at 9:11 AM
Posted by: michael.leroy

Geek Squad i-MiEV
The Geeks go Electric

Geek Squad, a company known for its rather iconic fleet of VW Beetles ditched the bugs and brought four fully electric Mitsubishi i-MiEV’s to the 2010 Consumer Electronics Show (CES). The tech repair company said last week they are currently leasing the cars and plan on using them at retail locations.

The compact i-MiEV is a svelte 2381 pounds and is powered by a mid-engine, 63-hp electric motor. To power the motor, Mitsubishi employed a lithium-ion battery pack that consists of 22 separate modules that are mounted underneath the cabin floor. Even with the motor in the back there is still room for the Geeks to store equipment.

When a quick-charging system is employed, the i-MiEV can be recharged to 80% in just 30 minutes. A standard 220V outlet can charge the battery pack in 7 hours. The standard two-prong 110v outlet will charge the battery pack in 14 hours. The estimated range for the i-MiEV is 80-100 miles.

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Some Electric Winners at Frankfurt

Thursday September 17th, 2009 at 8:99 AM
Posted by: m35man

Citreon EV

France’s Renault SA stole the spotlight at the Frankfurt Motor Show, unveiling four electric cars and pledging to bring them to market at reasonable prices within three years.

These spicy winners steamed the competition when Renault stepped up and led the buzz parade. The name of the game in Frankfurt was electric. Gas is passé and the press is impressed by top-tier designs that embrace the passion of electric car technology.

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Mitsubishi Bringing Electric i-MiEV To Market (video)

Tuesday June 9th, 2009 at 9:66 AM
Posted by: tonyb

It looks like Mitsubishi is getting very serious about it’s i-MiEV EV that caused such a splash at this year’s Geneva Motor Show. The diminutive, all electric city-car is headed not only for production, but will be for sale to any Joe Schmoe off the street with the money and the desire to buy one of the little guys. As long as they live in Japan (for now).

Mitsubishi is starting off small, and being nice and logical and methodical about the first sales of its i-MiEV. The initial sales targets are aiming to move only 1400 of the little guys in fiscal year 2009, but that seems like a good way to go about it.

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Mitsubishi bringing the i-MiEV to the world and that includes the U.S.

Thursday April 9th, 2009 at 12:44 PM
Posted by: Derek

Mitsubishi representatives officially announced that the i MiEV electric vehicle – already a hit in test drives and closely involved in joint programs with power companies across the world – will be coming to the U.S. This move has been hinted at for a long while, but now we know for certain that the electric jellybean, based on the “i” minicar, is coming.

Official details are scarce, but company representatives told us ahead of schedule that the car would be available here sometime “before 2012.” The problem isn’t the technology (a left-hand drive model should go on sale in Europe in 2011 after the right-hand model hits Japan this summer and the UK, maybe in 2010), but guaranteeing a supply of lithium. If GS Yuasa can’t produce the batteries, Read the rest of this entry »

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Move over smart car, the Mitsubishi i MiEV has arrived

Saturday November 22nd, 2008 at 12:1111 AM
Posted by: Derek

By Derek Mau

Amidst the hustle and bustle of the city’s buzzing hive of urban workers, a quiet ceremony was taking place in front of Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) San Francisco offices. A handful of reporters, the occasional curiosity seeker walking by, and a few employees on break were around to witness the delivery of Mitsubishi Motors (MMC) all-electric vehicle, the i MiEV (Mitsubishi Innovative Electric Vehicle), to PG&E for some extensive testing over the next few years.

The i MiEV is an all-electric powered vehicle based on the Mitsubishi i sold in Japan.The original i is a sub-compact car that has the size and dimensions of a “light car” (classified in Japan as “keijidousha” class) with an engine displacement of up to 660cc. The car looks tiny on the outside but is fairly spacious on the inside. Looking somewhat like a jellybean on wheels, it’s a tad over 133 inches from end to end. With the car’s 15-inch wheels pushed all the way out to the corners, the overhangs are zero. As a result, it has a 100-inch wheelbase and a very stable ride. For the sake of comparison, the 5-door VW Rabbit’s wheelbase is 101.5 inches. This translates into a surprising amount of interior passenger room — much more than you’d expect from such a small car.

(Video and photos if the Mitsubishi i MiEV below the jump)

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Mitsubishi to test i MiEV electric car in U.S.

Tuesday August 12th, 2008 at 6:88 AM
Posted by: Derek

Mitsubishi i MiEVElectric cars from Mitsubishi are getting a test run in the United States.

The automaker has signed a deal with two California utility companies, Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) and Southern California Edison (SCE), to begin testing the i MiEV, an electric car based on the “i” mini cars Mitsubishi sells in Japan. Tests will start late this year.

According to Tohru Hashimoto, Corporate General Manager of the i MiEV Business Promotion Office of Mitsubishi Motors Corporation, “The small, four-passenger Mitsubishi i MiEVs will enter into SCE and PG&E’s prototype testing and evaluation programs. This collaboration with two of the nation’s leading utility supporters of electric vehicles will provide us technical feedback on i MiEV vehicle and battery performance, as well as vehicle connection and integration into the electrical system.”

Extensive testing with the i MiEV has been occurring over the past two years with seven major utility companies in Japan. The success of these programs quickened the pace and prompted Mitsubishi Motors to begin selling the electric vehicle in the Japan market in summer of 2009.

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