2012 Mitsubishi i-MiEV Long Term Road Test

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2012 Mitsubishi i-MiEV: Geographic Desirability

June 14, 2012

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I've lived in the city in an apartment for years. Save for frequent visits to friends, who are widely scattered around greater Los Angeles, an electric vehicle could totally work for me -- at least for 4-5 days out of the week.

And apart from its awkward seating position, I enjoy driving our long-term Mitsubishi i MiEV more than the Mini E and Nissan Leaf. The Mitsu's a lot lighter (2,400-2,500 pounds) and that makes it fun around corners. You can call it a glorified golf cart, but that's not an accurate description. It's a real car and the gasoline version has been on sale in Japan for years. It was among the first of the fuel-miser kei cars that offered halfway decent ride and handling. If the Smart ForTwo offered this kind of packaging, with four usable seats, it would have been a lot bigger success in the U.S. up until now.

But back to EVs. I live in the city. An EV should be right up my alley. But I live in an old apartment building (late 1940s) and have no place to plug one in -- yeah, I can charge at work or at various spots around Santa Monica, but when you get home late at night, all you want is the convenience of knowing your car will be ready to go in the morning.

And for that reason, my impending move 30 miles away to a single-family home with a real garage could actually make the i MiEV a more realistic proposition -- only because I'll now have an outlet to plug the car in once I return home.

I suppose you could argue that right now single-family homeowners (and home renters) are the true target audience of EVs, whereas city people in apartments are supposed to use public transportation. But this is Southern California, and there's a strong, strong pull to have your own space, your own set of wheels. EV proponents should be looking for ways to work with landlords and tenants living in older apartment/housing stock -- if you could upgrade the wiring and install more external outlets in these communities (and somehow do it affordably), cars like the i MiEV could be more viable.

Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 1,188 miles

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