By John Addison (6/9/11)
Get Yours for $21,665 After Federal Tax Credit
The new Mitsubishi i (official name with small “i”), bigger and with more zip for the U.S. market, can now be reserved at a low price that will challenge the Nissan LEAF, Ford Focus Electric, and Honda Fit Electric. The world’s best selling freeway-speed electric car is coming to the U.S. this November.
My 15-mile test drive of the Mitsubishi i-MiEV showed me that this electric car has got what it takes. For example, the i-MiEV with its 46kW electric motor climbed 16% grade steep hill with the same ease as a Nissan LEAF. The U.S. Mitsubishi version will have 49 kW motor. By contrast, the Smart ED with its 16kW motor struggled up hills.
Using a conventional automatic shift, you can drive the Mitsubishi i in 3 modes: ECO for most driving with the best electric range, D for accelerating on freeways and climbing hills, and B to increase motor resistance for maximum regenerative brake power. This pure battery-electric has no gas tank. You can charge it at standard Level 2 J1772 public stations, adding 10 to 15 miles of range per hour of charge. Trickle charge from standard outlets is a slow 8 amp that may get upgraded to 12 A. Such charging will only add 2 to 3 miles per hour of charge. Life the LEAF, and unlike most plug-in cars, a DC Fast Charge option will add up to 70 miles of range in less than 30 minutes.
An optional Eaton Level 2 charger can be ordered for home installation. Mitsubishi will encourage these chargers to be ordered from Best Buy that will do a home inspection then schedule installation by a trained electrician. Since Level 2 charging is standard, you may want to get bids from other electricians for other chargers.
This June, I got to see and hear the latest from Mitsubishi at the EV Symposium presented by the Silicon Valley Leadership Group. Of the 200 people attending the symposium, 40 showed-up in electric vehicles that they owned. 20 of the electric cars were Nissan LEAFs. There were Chevrolet Volts, Tesla Roadsters, Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrids and a Mitsubishi i. Electric cars are here and their real – very real in the heart of Silicon Valley.
$6,000 Less than Nissan LEAF
Mitsubishi raised the price of their new electric car from $27,990 to $29,195 after Nissan raised the price of the 2012 LEAF by over $2,000. So far, electric car makers are not making money on these EV and they cannot supply fast enough to keep up with demand. The Mitsubishi i is able to start at $6,000 below the 2012 Nissan LEAF. The Mitsubishi can price lower because it only uses a 16 kW lithium battery; the LEAF, 24 kW. The Mitsubishi range average is 85 miles; the LEAF, 100. Fleet managers will start getting U.S. delivery this November, individuals, in January 2012.
The 5-door hatchback feels like a roomy sub-compact inside. My 5 foot, 10 inch frame, fit easily in the driver’s seat and in the back seat of this 4-seater. The car is definitely designed for the urban environment. Parallel parking is a breeze, just nose in, turn off the car, and walk away. The back seat can fold down if you are loading up at big box stores, using this EV to make deliveries, or have extra work and school stuff.
The Mitsubishi i is a micro compact city-car with a tight turning radius. It can squeeze in neglected parking spaces, saving drives $20, $30, and even $50 per day. Compared to the Japanese i-MiEV, the U.S. version is 5-inches wider. It is 10-inches longer due to U.S. required bumpers.
The Model ES can be reserved for $29,195. The Model SE can be reserved for $31,125. The SE includes some upgraded interior appointments, a deluxe audio system with 360 watts and 8 speakers. With the SE you can pay $2,790 for an optional package that includes DC Fast Charging port, HDD navigation system with a back-up camera, and steering wheel audio controls. If you are ready to commit a $299 deposit, you can reserve your Mitsubishi i online.
The Mitsubishi i with navigation and DC fast charging, however, has little price advantage over the Nissan LEAF with navigation and DC fast charging. The LEAF offers more range, 5-seats, more cargo and a larger car that many will find more reassuring when driving freeways. Others will prefer the city parking space advantage of the Mitsubishi I, the urban styling, and the fun drive.
The Mitsubishi i is about 600 pounds lighter than the LEAF. Some expressway drivers will feel saver in the larger car, but the Mitsubishi electric car received a 4-star rating in stringent crash testing performed by Euro NCAP, a multinational vehicle safety-testing consortium in Europe.
Special Fleet Package for November Delivery
Fleet managers recognize that no vehicle meets all of their needs. Larger fleets may deploy different electric vehicles for different needs. For example, an employee pool could include Nissan LEAFs and Chevrolet Volts for those needing extended range. Delivery routes could need 3-ton Smith electric trucks for big items and Mitsubishi I with the back seat folded for quick deliveries in cities with parking space challenges.
The Mitsubishi i should do well in campus environments, short deliveries, and urban driving. Major rental car and car sharing fleets are evaluating the Mitsubishi i. Municipalities like the City of Santa Monica already have the Mitsubishi I on order. A special Fleet Model ES that includes DC Fast Charging will be available for $28,690. Fleet deliveries start in November. The Mitsubishi I will be on the GSA schedule.
An electric car will save most people over a $1,000 per year by avoiding gas station fill-ups. The Mitsubishi electric car is expected to be so reliable that you can prepay $500 for 5 years of maintenance, a big savings over a gasoline car. Yes, you could pay less upfront for fun urban cars like Smart, Fit, Yaris, Fiesta, and Cruze, but the Mitsubishi i will save year after year. You will be impressed with the Mitsubishi i.
Mitsubishi i Specifications
Get details at Mitsubishi. Some features only optional or only for Model SE.
|Range||85 miles (targeted LA4 EPA city cycle)|
|Charge times||Standard home 120V outlet: 22.5 hours
Optional home 240V EVSE charging dock: 6.0 hours
CHAdeMO Level 3 public quick-charging: 30 minutes to 80% charge
|Top Speed||80 mph|
|Motor||Rear motor, 49 kW AC synchronous|
|Battery||16 kWh lithium-ion, 330V, 88 cells|
|Portable charging cable (Level 1)||120V|
|Optional home charging dock (Level 2)||240V requires purchase and installation of Eaton EVSE 240V home charging station)|
|DC quick- charge port (Level 3)||~50 KW (requires SE trim with Premium Package)|
|Brakes||Front ventilated disc and rear drum brakes
Regenerative brake power system
4-wheel Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS)
Electronic Brake force Distribution (EBD)
Brake Assist (BA)
Brake override system
|Suspension & Steering||Independent strut front suspension with stabilizer bar
Rear 3-link de dion suspension
Speed-sensitive, Electric Power Steering (EPS)
|Drivetrain||Rear motor layout, rear wheel drive
Single fixed reduction gear transmission
Diamond White Pearl
Diamond White Pearl & Ocean Blue Two-Tone
|Styling & Functionality||Body color outer door handles
Body color power side view mirrors
Halogen projection headlamps
Side marker lamps
Charge door release
Rear window defroster
Rear intermittent wiper and washer
LED rear combination tail lamps
Fog lamps with DRL function
Auto on/off headlamps
|Wheels & Tires||15-inch steel wheels with cover
15-inch alloy wheels
145/65 R15 low rolling resistant front tires
175/60 R15 low rolling resistant rear tires
Tire repair kit (No spare tire)
Cold Zone Package:
|Battery||8 years/100,000 miles|
|New Vehicle||3 years / 36,000 miles limited warranty|
|Overall length||144.8 in.|
|Overall width||62.4 in.|
|Overall height||63.6 in.|
|Track (F/R)||55.9 / 54.3 in.|
|Vehicle weight||2595 lbs.|
|Coefficient of drag||0.35|
|Front legroom||33.8 in.|
|Front shoulder room||54.8 in.|
|Front headroom||35.6 in.|
|Rear legroom||30.0 in.|
|Rear shoulder room||54.8 in.|
|Rear headroom||34.3 in.|
|Cargo Volume||13.0 cu. ft. (approximate)|
|Max cargo Volume||50.0 cu. ft. (approximate)|
|Passenger volume||85.0 cu. ft. (approximate)|
|Turning Radius||15.4 ft.|
Technical specifications are based on the latest information available at the time of posting and are subject to change without notice. Features and options subject to change without notice.