The Auto Channel
The Largest Independent Automotive Research Resource
Official Website of the New Car Buyer

2012 Mitsubishi i-MiEv An Electrifying Review By Larry Nutson +VIDEO


 Mitsubishi i-MiEv  (select to view enlarged photo)
Mitsubishi i-MiEv

Mitsubishi i-MiEv
Never visit a gas station again!
By Larry Nutson
Senior Editor, Chicago Bureau
The Auto Channel


The scheduling of test drives in manufacturer’s press cars is done weeks in advance. I was more than thrilled when Mitsubishi’s car-handler in Chicago called to say they could give me drive-time in the pure electric Mitsubishi i-MiEv. Making things better yet, the car would be delivered on a trailer so I would have a full battery charge at the start.


 Mitsubishi i-MiEv  (select to view enlarged photo)

The Mitsubishi i Miev is the lowest priced electric car you can buy in the U.S. and is offered in two models. The Mitsubishi i-MiEv ES model is priced at $29,125. My test car was the SE priced at $31,125…shipping adds $850. It is EPA-rated at 62 miles of travel on a full charge. MPGe ratings are 126 city and 99 highway. Admittedly, if I got into a gasoline-powered car and saw the gas gauge reading 60 miles to empty I would be heading for the nearest gas station to refuel. Driving a pure-EV takes some mindset adjustments and also a change in driving habits that requires more careful trip planning.


 Mitsubishi i-MiEv  (select to view enlarged photo)

Electric vehicles are not the “silver bullet”; they are simply another choice. The Mitsubishi i-MiEv is very capable and suitable for in-city living and driving. Occasional highway runs will work just fine, too. I went about my business driving the Chicago city streets with no concerns about keeping up with traffic or causing any slowing of traffic. I drove just as if I was driving a gasoline-powered car. The i Miev is just under 145 inches long which makes for easy parallel parking. It has seating for four and about 13cuft of trunk space for groceries and other items. The rear seat folds and together with the large rear hatch is suitable for hauling a larger piece of cargo.


 Mitsubishi i-MiEv  (select to view enlarged photo)

The exterior design is unique to the Mitsubishi i-MiEv and somewhat eye-catching which causes some heads to turn, not unlike the Chevy Volt and Nissan Leaf, and like the unique instant recognition a Toyota Prius gets as a “green car”. On the inside there is the full contingent of safety features and equipment that we have come to expect in a new car today. And the Mitsubishi i-MiEv is not bare-bones. Standard equipped is air conditioning, power windows, power door and tailgate locks, heated driver seat, auto on/off headlamps, electric power steering and remote keyless entry. A Premium Package on my test car provided a navigation system, rear-view camera, heated sideview mirrors and steering wheel audio controls for the 8-speaker sound system.

This zero tailpipe emission i Miev makes use of a 49 kW AC synchronous electric motor (66 bhp), an 88-cell 16 kWh lithium-ion battery pack and includes an on-board battery charger. The vehicle’s batteries can be recharged in approximately 22 hours by the included 120v Level 1 portable charging cable, 7 hours by a dedicated 240v Level 2 EVSE charger, and receive an 80% charge in under 30 minutes from a public Level 3 quick charging station via the optional charging port.


 Mitsubishi i-MiEv  (select to view enlarged photo)

A nice feature of the Mitsubishi i-MiEv and other EVs is the ability to heat or cool the car interior while connected to the charger for up to 30 minutes ahead of driving. In reviewing the owner’s manual I noticed some cautions regarding the Mitsubishi i-MiEv and operation and performance in extreme cold and heat, that is, 5ºF and lower and 104ºF and higher. Talk to your dealer if you live in an extreme-temperature area.

I drove my Mitsubishi i-MiEv test car down to 11 miles remaining of driving range. Chicago has a very significant charging station infrastructure initiative and by looking at the Charge Point Network (www.chargepointportal.net) it is easy to locate public charging stations. A Level 2 charging station was located at a nearby Whole Foods parking garage so off I went to recharge. I plugged in, connected and activated the charger. I returned after 2 1/2 hours of charging and the driving range was now at 41 miles.


Watch the iMiEV promo video


In my view an EV cannot be your only vehicle; it can be one of the vehicles in a multiple-vehicle household. However, for the city-dweller who uses public transportation for their weekday commute and wants a car for a few weekend errands, an EV might just work out as an only car… but forget about taking any weekend road trip with it. I’m also convinced you must have your own garage and a Level 2 charger, which can cost about $2500 in itself. I would be continuously plugging-in to recharge to be sure I had max-driving range always available. (And what if there is a power outage?)


 Mitsubishi i-MiEv  (select to view enlarged photo)

A study recently released by the Union of Concerned Scientists found that electric vehicle owners could save between $750 and $1,200 a year compared to the average compact gas-powered car getting 27 mpg and driven 11,000 miles per year, based on the national average electricity price of 11 cents per kilowatt hour and an average gas price of $3.50 per gallon. The study took into account the higher cost of the electric vehicles and the price of electricity and gas. However, 45% of Americans get their electricity from coal fired power plants and it would be better for the environment if they drove a hybrid.

Let me lastly touch on the oft-touted $7500 Federal Tax Credit. EV manufacturers are all-too-quick to tell you the car price after the credit. Well, it’s not a discount, not a rebate, but a credit on your Federal total tax liability. This means you have to pay the full price up-front and then you must have a tax liability equal to or greater than the $7500 credit to get it back. Then you need to figure out how to apply this money to your current car payment! There is discussion to change this credit so it can be taken by the seller, but experts tell me that won’t happen, if at all, before the November Presidential election. There are various incentives from local states, so check things out thoroughly.

The Mitsubishi i-MiEv was launched in November and is sold by about 400 dealers in the U.S. The i Miev has made Kelley Blue Book's kbb.com "10 Best Green Cars of 2012" list. If you can take full advantage of tax credits the i Miev certainly is affordable. If your expectations are met by what the i Miev is designed to do, it will satisfy as a city car.

Can you drive on Electric Avenue?

© Larry Nutson