First Drive 2011 Mitsubishi iMiEV (JDM Spec) Autosavant Autosavant

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Mitsubishi i MiEV

First Drive: 2011 i-MiEV (JDM Spec)

By Haak

The conventional wisdom is green cars such as and EVs have to look like a little different from the three-box sedan if they to enjoy sales success. it explains why the Prius outsells the Hybrid.

Well, the Mitsubishi certainly fits the bill of different. Technically, I suppose it s a one-box car, though in it is far more ovoid and organically to call it a box. It s smaller nearly everything on the road and will certainly attract wherever it goes.

  Several ago, I had the opportunity to drive an (Japan spec, right drive) at a media event, and I the car to be a curious blend of the normal and as I tallied a few miles in the little EV.

sells a kei car called the i in Japan and other right hand markets.  The i has a tiny 659 cc three mounted rear-midships, and has been well-received, thanks in large to its efficiency and above-average packaging.  The version of the i is called the i-MiEV in the hand drive markets it s sold (where MiEV for Mitsubishi innovative Electric but since there s no left drive i, and there are no plans to a conventional i in the US, the i-MiEV will be called the i when it hits the US

The US-spec i is not the same car as the JDM (Japanese Market) i-MiEV; Mitsubishi the US-spec version of the car at the 2010 Los International Auto Show, and it was larger and heavier than the already on sale elsewhere in the The US-spec i will have features, will be wider therefore handle directional better), and will be optimized to US safety standards.

But I actually this Japanese-spec version of the car to the US-spec i s debut in Los Angeles, and I m to note that it drove well.  The car that I drove was right off the boat from and had some curiosities that I m not to seeing in cars I drive in the For one, the steering wheel was on the side rather than the

  This meant a bigger than one might expect, the car s pivot point during is much different (a left has the driver on the outside of the turn in a RHD while it has the driver on the inside of the in a normal LHD car).  I adjusted to different perspective rather and mercifully, the accelerator is still on the and the brake is still on the left, so two required no adjustment.  The mental that I had a lot of trouble overcoming, was that the turn signal is on the side of the steering column in the with the wiper switch on the side.

  If only I had a dollar for every I approached a turn and hit the wipers

Another quick of the car s Japanese was that all of the warning labels instance, on the sun visor) were in Japanese only.  However, the were labeled in English, and the had, of course, standard numbers on them.  I did have to do a bit of math to discern my speed in per hour, since the speedometer only km/h with no MPH

The car s interior is fairly spartan, a lot of hard plastic on the dash and panels.  The seats are reasonably and the controls are logically laid The car s spartan nature meant there really was no learning necessary in deciphering climate and controls.

  It s good that the US i have a body that s than four inches because the hip room definitely in this car because of its narrow and the extra width will help with the car s handling Visibility, thanks to the tall, profile and large glass is excellent in all directions.  Plus, in traffic tend to notice a egg-shaped car with blue and a 15 inch tall red Mitsubishi log on front door.

With low rolling resistance tires, and and upright, narrow you can probably guess what the car s behavior was like with a degree of accuracy.  There was body roll than one like to see, but helping a bit is the fact that the weight of the battery packs is very low on the keeping the car s center of gravity to the ground.  The battery pack 330 volts and 16 kWh, and can charge quickly if given a high-voltage (specifically, 10-12 hours at 110 and 5-6 hours at 220 volts).

  In some Mitsubishi sells a fast that can take the batteries 0 to 80 percent in 20 minutes, which if the were there could help alleviate the range that Chevy is capitalizing on its promotional message for the Volt.

Mitsubishi i MiEV

claims that the i-MiEV travel about 75 miles on a charge, which seems to be plausible given my experience the car for about a quarter of that I was heavy on the accelerator for portions of my and the car responded with a nice of EV torque (63 horsepower and 133 lb-ft, 2,376 pounds) that keep up with most in the US, and certainly city traffic.

There are three drive in the i-MiEV D, Eco, and B.  D(rive) very much like a car, though without the car soundtrack and no sensation of gear (it has a single-speed gearbox, as do many Eco is designed to preserve range and power as much as possible, but somewhat on the driving experience.  braking in Eco mode, even touching the brake pedal, the car nearly as annoying to drive as an Mini E that I spent seat time in about a and a half ago.

  Finally, the B provided the most horsepower and braking.  I preferred D.

In all fairness to the that I drove, it was not designed for I was asking it to do:  drive in surrounded by large American and satisfy discerning American It lacks the gee-whiz technology that the Volt and Leaf to its driver, and feels less and valuable compared to those cars as a result.  Pricing t been announced (part of the to the pricing question depends dollar-yen exchange rates the car s late 2011 sale approaches), but we were told to around $30,000 before the Federal tax subsidy (which, of takes the price to about With the Nissan Leaf similar specs, but a nicer and perhaps a better brand the i will have its work cut out for It certainly helps that the i s undercuts the Leaf s by about but in terms of perceived value, the may be worth that price


  Once we can get our mitts on a US-spec i, we ll know with greater how this car will stack up a growing set of competitors (don t the Ford Focus EV coming in as well), but for now, the i s advantages (at they can be considered advantages upon your perspective) are its its price, and the fact that its has already been proven for a few in overseas markets.

Mitsubishi that there is a lot of pressure on the automaker to turn around its US and a green halo car like the i can t hurt.  The company has  for the i s US sales, with a target of units annually by 2015.  that number will upon the number of competitors and the of people willing to accept the that these early EVs of their owners, as well as how the i meets the needs of potential

  Honda sold just Insights through the first 11 of 2010, so 20,000 i sales is not a

Overall, the i-MiEV was a nice that requires some adaptations to this market, but is a real, viable car for anyone in the for a new EV.  There aren t choices out there at the moment, so it s enough for an EV intender to test one available, and in fact they once the i hits Mitsubishi

Chris is Autosavant’s Managing He has a lifelong love of everything having grown up as the son of a car dealer. A father of two sons, Chris is in the process of indoctrinating them the world of cars and trucks.

Mitsubishi i MiEV
Mitsubishi i MiEV
Mitsubishi i MiEV
Mitsubishi i MiEV

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