18 Test drive allelectric Mitsubishi car at expo

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18 test drive all-electric Mitsubishi car at expo

BLOOMINGTON — A high-tech vendor took center stage at the annual Illinois Sustainable Living Wellness Expo on Saturday at Illinois Wesleyan University’s Shirk Center.

For the first time, local residents were able to test drive the “i” car, the i MiEV, Mitsubishi Motors Corp.’s all-electric car that could by available to Twin City consumers by the end of this year.

First in line for a test-drive was Peter Schuetz and his wife, Joan, of Normal. They took the i MiEV on a five-minute spin. Their first surprise was the silence.

Without pistons firing under the hood, it was hard to tell the car was even on.

“It’s wonderful,” said Joan Schuetz as she took the car over the historic Camelback Bridge during her drive. “Oh, my, this is heavenly.”

Her husband also took the four-passenger car for a spin, and was suitably impressed.

“It accelerates quickly. And it was much more spacious than I thought it would be. I hope it’s the car of the future. I hope they start making them here in town,” said Peter Schuetz.

The couple was lucky to get a test ride. Only 18 were scheduled, and the sign-up sheet filled up quickly.

Mitsubishi i Electric Cars

“We had people before the expo started (at 9 a.m.) here to sign up for the test drives,” said Missy Smock, director of wellness at Illinois Wesleyan and coordinator of the expo.

The town of Normal recently received the first two of 1,000 electric vehicles that Mitsibushi has promised to have for sale locally by 2014. Geoff Fruin, Normal’s assistant city manager, said some may trickle in by the end of the year, but more likely they will start arriving in March 2012.

The European i MiEV electric car on display Saturday is very close to what local consumers will have a crack at purchasing. Fruin said the American version will be a “little bulkier” due to different safety standards in the United States.  Batteries can be charged to 80 percent capacity in 30 minutes, and the car can travel up to 85 miles between charges.

Smock said public awareness on sustainability and ecology has grown tremendously in her 21 years at the school. But she said the biggest misconception people have is that they cannot make a difference.


“I think sometimes people from an individual perspective don’t feel they can make a difference. But every person who makes a personal change can still make a huge difference,” said Smock. She pointed to recycling as an individual effort that adds up to big benefits for the environment.

The expo also featured booths on nutrition, exercise and gardening in addition to special seminars on renewable energy strategies, cutting one’s carbon footprint and raising chickens. There was even bicycle valet parking for those not wanting to drive to the event.

Smock said the event, organized by Illinois Wesleyan University and the Ecology Action Center in Normal, attracted more than 2,000 visitors.

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Mitsubishi i Electric Cars

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