Nissan LEAF or Mitsubishi iMiEV which electric car has the edge?

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Mitsubishi Electric Cars

Nissan LEAF or Mitsubishi i-MiEV which electric car has the edge?

Tuesday 13 April 2010. The Green Piece Column

One of the stumbling blocks to the mainstream adoption of electric cars is pricing. So, as Japanese manufacturers Nissan and Mitsubishi enter into a mini price war over their zero emission offerings (see article ) will consumers be the winners?

How much does each vehicle cost?

Nissan has confirmed a starting price of Y3.76million in Japan with the LEAF to also benefit from up to Y770,000 in government incentives and be free from car acquisition and weight tax – the vehicle will be available to order from April 1. Meanwhile, Mitsubishi countered by making its vehicle available to individuals on the same date and with government subsidies it could be picked up for as little as Y2,840,000.

In the US, the Nissan LEAF is expected to cost around $25,280 after a Federal tax credit of $7,500 has been deducted – before the deduction, the model costs $32,780 (see article ). Orders for the model in the States open on April 20, with deliveries in select markets to begin by December. By contrast, the Mitsubishi i-MiEV is expected to go on sale in the US in April 2011 and Mitsubishi Motors spokesman Maurice Durand told reporters at the New York International Auto Show that a sub $30,000 price tag would be targeted even before tax credits are taken into account.

Here in the UK, Mitsubishi has already announced that its i-MiEV model will cost just under £39,000 (see article ) although customers will be able to benefit from a £5,000 reduction thanks to the Government’s Plug-in Car Grants which begin next year. We have an in-depth analysis of how the cost of the Mitsubishi i-MiEV stacks up compared to a petrol car here — the vehicle is also expected to be marketed as the Peugeot i0n and the Citroen C-ZERO before the end of the year. Nissan is yet to confirm the official price tag of the LEAF in the UK, but it is expected to be along the lines of its US retail price, which would make it significantly cheaper than the i-MiEV.

How do the vehicles stack up?

While the retail price of the two vehicles will be enough to persuade or deter many customers from being among the first to drive a mass produced electric car, there are other factors to be taken into account. Here is how each vehicle stacks up over some key criteria:

Vital statistics of the Mitsubishi i-MiEV:

Zero CO2 exhaust emissions.

Top speed: 81 mph.

Range: 80 miles (EU combined mode, estimated).

Charging time: Seven hours with a 220V system.

Seating capacity: Four adults, plus luggage.

Kerb weight: 1,105kg.

Dimensions: 3,475 (l) x 1,475 (w) x 1,610 (h).

Vital statistics of the Nissan LEAF:

Zero CO2 exhaust emissions.

Top speed: 90mph.

Mitsubishi Electric Cars

Range: 100 miles (based on an urban driving cycle).

Charging time: Eight hours with a 220V system.

Seating capacity: Four adults, plus luggage.

Kerb weight: 1,545kg.

Dimensions: 4,445 (l) x 1,770 (w) x 1,550 (h).

The Nissan LEAF has the slight edge in terms of range and performance capabilities, but the statistics are close enough to suggest that the initial price tag may be the key in swinging consumers one way or the other.

Our verdict

The Nissan LEAF and the Mitsubishi i-MiEV appear closely matched and the tussle over their retail prices in Japan may offer encouragement for the rest of the world too. However, traditionally technology is always more expensive when it’s new – and both vehicles may suffer from being the first to market.

According to our ownership analysis, it would take 12 years for a Mitsubishi i-MiEV owner to recoup his/her initial outlay when compared to a similar petrol engine car through the savings that can be made by charging a car rather than filling a tank. With most of us still reeling from the global recession and struggling to make ends meet, savings need to be made now rather than in the long term and even additional savings through government incentives and freedom from congestion charges may not fail to sway all but the most environmentally conscious drivers.

As take up increases however, prices traditionally fall with production costs reduced, and within the next two years we should see a host of electric cars made available that may push both of these vehicles to the backburner. As such we hope that both Nissan and Mitsubishi take a serious look at their price points to ensure their bravery in being the first to market is rewarded and that these innovative vehicles receive the attention they deserve.

Faye Sunderland

Mitsubishi Electric Cars
Mitsubishi Electric Cars
Mitsubishi Electric Cars
Mitsubishi Electric Cars

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