Mitsubishi Electric Car
Mitsubishi i MiEV
The Mitsubishi Electric car has won the race to be the first mainstream manufacturer to launch a next-generation electric car. The i MiEV (pronounced eye-meev) is a very capable small family car that takes the electric car out of the city. Better still, if you live in Japan or the United Kingdom, you can have one today.
The Mitsubishi i MiEV went on general sale in Japan in late 2009 and the first handful of cars were brought into the UK in December 2009. More vehicles are being brought into the United Kingdom in early 2010 and will be made available in other countries later in 2010.
I am lucky enough to be one of the first people in the United Kingdom to get access to this Mitsubishi electric car for a long term test: for one year, a Mitsubishi i MiEV will be joining my fleet of electric cars for long term evaluation and road testing.
Equally at home on the freeway or the city, the i--MiEV (Mitsubishi Innovative Electric Vehicle) is a fast, quiet and practical family runabout.
Put on sale in Japan and the United Kingdom in late 2009, the Mitsubishi i MiEV electric car has created a huge amount of renewed interest in electric cars. Celebrities Quentin Willson and Robert Llewellyn both own Mitsubishi i MiEVs and UK applications from customers to buy the first batch of electric cars were ten times oversubscribed.
The Mitsubishi i MiEV is a sub-compact, four seat city car with a surprising amount of interior space - certainly enough for the average family. It is roomy on the inside despite its compact length with space enough for four large adults. The electric motor and the batteries are fitted out of the way underneath the passenger compartment. The result is a very clever, practical and spacious layout that is far better than most other cars of its size.
Power comes from a 47kW electric motor, powered by 16kWh of lithium batteries. The batteries are designed to last the lifetime of the vehicle and come with a ten year manufacturers wararanty. It can be charged up from a 240v domestic socket in around 6 hours - or 'fast charged' from a dedicated charging station in around 20 minutes.
Performance is brisk - 0-62mph (0-100km/h) takes around 13 seconds - 5 seconds faster than the conventional combustion engine version of the car (the Mitsubishi i). The top speed is electronically limited to 82mph (132km/h) and the it has a range of up to 100 miles (160km).
To drive, it is exactly like a combustion engine car with automatic gearbox - drivers of conventional automatic cars will feel right at home in the i MiEV.
"One of the things that we decided very on was that the car needs to be near to a current normal car as possible," says Lance Bradley, Managing Director of Mitsubishi Motors UK. "We've made it like an ordinary car, the only difference is that there aren't any emissions out of it and it doesn't make any noise."
In taking that approach, some electric car purists argue that Mitsubishi have compromised some of the benefits and driveability of an electric car. Yet, the car remains an exceptionally good vehicle that manages to be better than its combustion engine equivalent.
There is no doubt that the Mitsubishi i MiEV is a very important new car - the first of a new generation of electric cars that will bring electric cars into the mainstream.
Since getting my Mitsubishi electric car, it has become the main family car: with two children, the Mitsubishi i MiEV is an ideal size for all our daily driving with sufficient range and performance for almost all the driving we do as a family: the only time we need a vehicle with longer range is when travelling on holiday or visiting distant relatives - which we only do half a dozen times a year.
Even for business driving, the i MiEV has sufficient range for the journeys I undertake. By arranging in advance to charge my electric car at my destination I can ensure I always have enough range for my journeys.
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