June 23, 2012
There's no denying our Mitsubishi i MiEV is a city car at heart, but my plans changed earlier this week, and I had to hop on the freeway one morning to visit the county registrar office near LAX.
After my earlier commuting experience in the i MiEV, the one where I inadvertently tested its range, I related all that to a real live friend who actually owns his very own i MiEV (yes, bought it himself). "Aw, you must have been going 65," he said. "I go 55 and draft off trucks."
Well, this time, the pace on I-405 was only about 65, and things were only flowing around 55 in the slower lanes. I wasn't in a hurry so I stayed over there and was quite content keeping a safe distance (no drafting needed this time) behind other unhurried motorists while listening to NPR. On the trip back to the office, the pace was slower with lots of stopping and going -- which is exactly the kind of driving the i MiEV likes best.
Also, it turned out this stretch of freeway is amenable to the i's skinny tires and susension calibration, as the car rode just fine, smoothly even, and didn't beat me up. If only I could get a little more seat-track travel (I have a different problem than Mark -- the steering wheel is OK where it is, but my legs are all folded up), I'd probably want to drive it more often.
Aside, the county registrar is a little too close for comfort to Randy's Donuts, and the donuts and coffee are just too affordably priced.
Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 1,234 miles
June 14, 2012
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
May 25, 2012
This is why, even though our Mustang GT was available -- and this from a guy whose personal car is a Mustang Cobra -- I took the electric Mitsu home last night. The reality is that this is what driving in L.A. is like pretty much five out of seven days, and 412 horsepower isn't going to get you home any quicker. Taking anywhere from 35-50" to go six miles (and that's by avoiding the 10 trapped-way) is annoying enough; sitting there wasting a finite resource and adding to the air pollution here just makes it worse.
We've already bashed the i-Miev for its clown car looks and too-high price. But speaking in terms of just driving an electric car, it's fine. Step-off (acceleration from a stop) is smooth and makes more sense for driving in heavy traffic than say the neck-snapping (but admittedly fun) nature of the Mini E we had some time ago. Of course it's quiet, the ride over crappy city streets is decent and the seats are comfortable enough, even if they look like they came out of a Yugo.
John DiPietro, Automotive Editor @ 1,085 miles
May 15, 2012
I took the i MiEV down to our studio to take a few shots of the under bits. I sat in the garage trying to get the seat into a comfortable position. I could never get it to feel right. I realized, to my surprise, that the seat bottom was just too high.
I say surprise because I am not a tall guy. But in the i MiEV I felt like I was about to scrap the ceiling with my head. I hit the down lever and it didn't budge. I could go none more lower. To paraphrase the great Jimmy McMillan, the seat was just too damn high.
This in the same vein of Mark Takahashi's complaint. I think the i MiEV is another victim of a poorly translated JDM design. Much like the first generation Honda Fit, they need to redesign the seats before they try to get the US market to embrace this niche vehicle.
Scott Jacobs, Sr Mgr, Photography
April 25, 2012
After driving our 2012 Mitsubishi i-MiEV a few times, I've come to the conclusion that it's not meant for city life but rather for putting around marble-smooth streets within the confines of an estate.
As it is, in the city, driving over road imperfections, the car shudders and rattles. Not to say it normally does that on perfect roads. But on well-traveled off-ramp I've driven on with many of our other long-termers, the i MiEV made it sound like I plowed its front wheel straight into a huge pothole. Frightened I broke our new car, I pulled over to inspect the tires and the front end to make sure there was no damage. I've actually ended up doing this a number of times since, after driving it carefully on roads with the same seemingly minor imperfections that previous cars have handled more quietly. But fortunately there was no damage. But what's its deal?
I can't wait for Dan Edmunds to do a suspension walkaround on this thing.
Caroline Pardilla, Deputy Managing Editor
April 12, 2012
Photo by Scott Jacobs
I rarely fail to find a comfortable driving position. At 5'10", I'm pretty close to the average height of the American male adult. That's why I'm so surprised that the Mitsubishi i MiEV fits me so poorly.
When I get in a car, the first thing I adjust is the travel of the seat. I try to get the seat to a point where my legs are supported by the cushion, comfortably outstretched and have easy contact with the pedals. Then, I adjust the rake of the seatback so I can grab the 4- and 8-o'clock position of the steering wheel with my elbows bent around 90 degrees.
The problem with the i MiEV is that the steering wheel neither tilts nor telescopes. With the wheel permanently mounted too close to the dash, my arms are stretched far past my comfort zone. That leads me to believe that this car was designed with the average Japanese in mind (males: 5'7", females: 5'2"). Either that, or it was made for the average American male with ape arms.
With this in mind, I think Mitsubishi should have added a tilt and telescoping wheel for the non-Asian markets. I mean, how will tall-man Riswick drive the i MiEV?
I suppose we'll have to invest in a pair of these robot arms for him. Wait, now that I visualize that, we DEFINITELY need to get him some robot arms.
Mark Takahashi, Automotive Editor @ 644 miles