The popularity of electric vehicles (EVs) is increasing due to their efficiency and fuel-saving properties. Mitsubishi Motors North America (MMNA) recently took on the challenge of the EV’s biggest sticking point: its affordability.
Enter the 2012 Mitsubishi i. With a manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) of $29,125, the i features a price tag more than $6,000 lower than its mainstream competition, according to the automaker. Federal tax credits and available state tax incentives reduce the price even further.
But the price isn’t the best part of the new Mitsubishi i, formerly known as the iMiEV; it’s just the beginning.
Why the i?
Shown as a concept vehicle at the 2003 Frankfurt Motor Show, the first version was a gasoline-powered model made for the Japanese market. In mid-2009, the electric version, the iMiEV (Mitsubishi innovative electric vehicle) was launched in Japan, and production started in October 2011 for first U.S. deliveries in December 2011.
Among the best fleet applications for EVs are as defined route vehicles, fitting within the range of the vehicle. "We have sold vehicles to cities including Car Share Fleets in Santa Monica, Calif.; San Francisco Car Share; to health care companies for security applications, including Kaiser; and universities such as Cornell University for pool car applications," said Thomas Miller, EV commercial fleet sales manager for MMNA.
Due to overwhelming demand and dealer excitement, the manufacturer announced that the vehicle is now available to order for delivery in May/June across the country.
‘i-Catching’ Good Looks
Available in two trim levels (ES and SE), the 2012 Mitsubishi i standard features include driver seat heater, on-board recharging system with 120v portable charging cable, remote keyless entry, power door locks, and four-passenger seating capacity. The SE trim level includes additional features such as a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, two-tone instrument panel, seat material upgrade, 15-inch alloy wheels, auto on/off headlamps, and more. The SE trim level also offers an exclusive diamond white pearl and ocean blue two-tone paint scheme.
This new, U.S.-spec’d model features increased interior and improved safety features over the European model (4.3-inch wider track and redesigned front and rear bumpers), a tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS), and an acoustic vehicle alerting system to warn pedestrians of the approaching EV.
The vehicle has an EPA-rated 112-mpg equivalency (MPGe) in city driving and 99 MPGe in highway driving, which equates to an EPA range on a single charge of 62 to 98 miles. This zero-tailpipe emissions production vehicle uses a 49 kW, AC synchronous electric motor, an 88-cell 16 kWh lithium-ion battery pack, and includes an onboard battery charger. The vehicle’s batteries can be recharged in approximately 22 hours by the included 120v Level 1 portable charging cable, seven hours by a dedicated 240v Level 2 EVSE charger (available for home installation by select retailers or utility companies), and receive an 80-percent charge in under 30 minutes from a public Level 3 DC quick charging station via the optional DC charging port.
Warranties include: three-year/36,000-mile basic; five-year/60,000-mile powertrain; eight-year/100,000-mile battery; and seven-year/100,000-mile anti-corrosion.