2012 Mitsubishi i-MiEV Long Term Road Test

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2012 Mitsubishi i-MiEV: August and September Electricty Use Update

October 3, 2012

2012 Mitsubishi i-MiEV

Our 2012 Mitsubishi i MiEV continues to be used by editors that live fairly close to the office and its 240V SAE charge station. The location of our charge equipment isn't all that unrealistic because most EV owners only have access to one 240V charger. Our commute is bass ackwards, is all, with the charging equipment on the work end instead of the home end.  

Here is how things stand with August and September added in.

2012 Mitsubishi i MiEV

Best

Worst

Average

EPA

Electricity (kWh/100 mi)

20.3

41.3

28.1

30

     Observed Range (miles)

57.8

 

 

62

Projected Range (miles)

(Observed range + DTE)

83.8

45.0

62.6

Because that's only 1,980 miles of driving. Clearly, no one is lining up to take this one home. 

The reluctance that certain editors have to driving this car boils down to a couple of issues: the utter bare bones-edness of the car itself and fear of its short range. 62 miles isn't exactly stellar and range anxiety kicks in big time as you approach 50 miles.

Sure, it can be topped up at home on 120V, but as I've said before the i MiEV is one slow charging EV. But that was speculative, based on manufacturer estimates. Since then I've timed it using the same 120V outlet at my house.

The new 2012 Honda Fit EV added 1.25 kWh to its battery for every hour it was plugged in. Factoring in its 29 kWh/100 EPA consumption rate we can say it charges at 4.3 miles per hour, as in miles of driving per hour of charging. Use our observed 24.8 kWh/100 consumption figure instead and the effective charge rate climbs to 5.0 miles per hour.

Similarly, the Focus Electric added 1.30 kWh to its battery during each hour on the plug. Its EPA rating of 32 kWh/100 miles translates that to 4.1 miles per hour of charging. In actuality it used only 28.4 kWh/100 miles during its time with us, so our actual 120V charge rate was 4.6 added battery miles per hour.

And the i MiEV? It can only add 0.75 kWh to its battery every hour it's plugged in. With an EPA consumption rating of 30 kWh/100 miles, the nominal charge rate is just 2.5 miles per hour. But as you see above we've averaged 28.1 kWh/100 miles, which bumps the observed charge rate to 2.7 miles per hour.

It all boils down to 5.0 and 4.6 compared to 2.7 battery miles per charging hour.

Meager range after you've filled at the preferred 240V charging station is one thing, but the fact that 120V top-ups take forever is something else entirely. I can't refill the battery overnight here at my place and still make it to back to the work charge station on time is another. Those that do their primary charging at home and top up with 120V at work or wherever they go during the day face the same issue in reverse. Slow top-up charging makes a small radius of operation that much smaller.

Even though it is not often discussed, charging speed, be it 240V primary charging or 120V top up charging, is an EV attribute that, to me, stands on equal footing with the range itself.

Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing @ 1,980 miles

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2012 Mitsubishi i-MiEV: National Plug In Day

September 23, 2012

2012 Mitsubishi i-MiEV

Today is National Plug In Day. Sponsored by Plug In America, Sierra Club, and the Electric Auto Association, there are more than 50 events happening around the U.S celebrating plug-in vehicles.

I'm celebrating by plugging in our Mitsubishi i-MiEV at home on a beautiful Sunday morning while I enjoy my coffee in the backyard.

I've been driving the i-MiEV all week on my staycation. It's been perfect for trips to the beach and local shops and restaurants. I love not going to a gas station to fill up.

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

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2012 Mitsubishi i-MiEV: July Fuel Economy Update

August 04, 2012

2012_mitsubishi_i-miev_1600_r34_charge_fuel_update.jpg 

The miles are not piling up very quickly on our 2012 Mitsubishi i-MiEV. After 4.5 months we're still below the 2,000-mile mark, mainly because mediocre range and slow at-home charging on the included Level 1 cordset have kept the driver pool down to those that live in there-and-back range of the 240V Level 2 charger at the office.

Phil Reed has 240V charging equipment at home, but like most other at-home Level 2 charge stations it has no readout to indicate how much electricity was just dispensed. It's like having a gas pump with no gallons readout. I've talked to many manufacturers of at-home Level 2 chargers recently, and they all say no one is asking for that feature. Really? Does that make sense to you?

I have to think the well-heeled early adopters they've polled so far, the kind of folks that can afford to overspend for an electric car, don't mind in an "I don't care so long as I'm not buying gasoline," kind of way. But knowing how much fuel is being consumed (and, by extension, how much it costs) is going to matter at SOME future point, isn't it?

Anyway, here's what we know after the July data is baked in -- minus two Phil Reed Level 2 home charges of unknown quantity and the miles he drove. Sorry, Phil, I'm sure you hypermiled the heck out of the i MiEV, but without kWh data we have no idea how efficient you were.

 

2012 Mitsubishi i-MiEV

Best

Worst

Average

EPA

Electricity (kWh/100 mi)

20.3

41.3

28.4

30

     Observed Range (miles)

57.8

 

 

62

Projected Range (miles)

(Observed Range + DTE)

83.8

51.0

64.2

For the most part, this was a good month for the i MiEV. It's thriftiest consumption dropped from 22.0 to 20.3 kWh per 100 miles. If you want to recast those figures in MPGe terms our best "tank" was 166 MPGe, up from 153 last month. But since gasoline isn't even remotely involved (no gas is, after all, the whole point here) I prefer not to cloud the issue. I'll stick with kWh/100 miles, the direct measure of electricity consumption.

On that note our average electricity consumption fell from 29.2 to 28.4 kWh/100 miles, and that compares very favorably to the 30 kWh/100 mile rating issued by the EPA.

Meanwhile, on the range front, our best observed range shot up a full 8 miles to 57.8 miles. I don't report worst and average range numbers because they have little meaning in the typical scenario where EV drivers plug in every day even if they only drove 4 miles to lunch and back.

Instead I like to keep track of projected range, the sum of the driven range on the trip odomenter and the remaining miles shown on the DTE gauge at each plug-in. On that basis the average projected range of 64.2 miles matches up well with the 62-mile range rating. The best projected range of 83.8 miles came on the day I drove 57.8 miles, the best observed range, with something like a third of a charge still left in the battery.

The bad news has to do with charge time on 120 V Level 1 charge equipment. This month I confirmed this EV isn't remotely livable without a 240V charger at home. Refilling those empty two-thirds took an eternity.

Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing @ 1,622 miles
 

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2012 Mitsubishi i-MiEV: Too Little Too Late

July 23, 2012

Mitsu EV.jpg 

Many editors are reluctant to take this little EV home because, with a range of about 63 miles, they can't make it there and back without charging. And charging at 110 volts, as Dan Edmunds documented in his post, takes way too long. Since I own a 2012 Nissan Leaf, I have 240 volt charging at my house, so that wasn't a problem for me. Unfortunately, with the charging port in the right rear, that means I have to back into my garage from a tight turn in the alley.

But that was the least of the problems.

Let me say right up front that I wanted to like this car because I believe that EVs will have an important place in our transportation landscape. But the i MiEV actually does electric cars a disservice. Anyone driving it will be turned off and believe all the bad things that The Man says about electric cars.

So much has been written about this car that I don't want to repeat it all. A few things that bothered me were the price ($31,125 before adding options) poor driving position, the barebones interface, the lack of a charging status light and the jumpy, short wheel base feel of the car. There is also surprisingly little rear storage space.

I did like the responsiveness of the electric power train with immediate torque at most speeds. It has a great turning radius and easily fits in tight parking spaces. The range might actually prove to be better than advertised since I drove 32 miles in eco mode and used only about 18 miles of range. And, finally, my wife thought it looked cute.

Sadly, the i MiEV, together with its awkward name, came too late to the party. And with the Nissan Leaf widely available, and Honda, Ford and Tesla releasing new EVs into the market place, the forecast is not good for this odd little vehicle.

Philip Reed, Senior Consumer Advice Editor @1,578 miles

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2012 Mitsubishi i-MiEV: A New Place to Get Charged

July 19, 2012

mitsubishi i-miev cs2.jpg
The Whole Foods down the street from the Edmunds hive recently unveiled a couple of spanking-new Blink charging stations. Now the i MiEV can get a fill-up while I peruse overpriced organic produce and gluten-free desserts.

The only surprising thing about all this is that it took Whole Foods this long to offer this amenity. This is Santa Monica, after all -- a city in which green isn't a color, it's a way of life.

Have there been any new charging stations launched in your neck of the woods?

Warren Clarke, Automotive Content Editor

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2012 Mitsubishi i-MiEV: About That Remote

July 11, 2012

2012_mitsubishi_i-miev_1600_remote_view_2.jpg 

Yesterday's 16.5-hour charging vigil (my 15-hour estimate was way off) was aided somewhat by the remote control that came with our 2012 Mitsubishi i-MiEV. With it I was able to check the charging status from inside the house.

As Mark Takahashi said some miles ago it does more than that. I could have programmed a time-delay to wait for cheaper overnight rates. I could have fired up the A/C from inside the house to pre-cool the interior. And if I had a faster 240V charge station at home I might have actually done those things. 

For me that little plug icon was the key feature. As long as it was visible I knew the battery wasn't full. You'd think the battery icon below would do the job, too, but it maxes out at something like 80% full. Last time I checked 80% wasn't equal to 100%, and as if to hammer that point home the i MiEV spent another 5 hours on the charger after that third bar came on. Useless; this isn't a camera.

And so the disappearance of the plug icon was the only sure sign that the battery was absolutely full, that charging was well and truly finished. An actual percent-full readout would have been significantly more useful.

And yeah, that is a rubber band. Mike Schmidt pulled this contraption out of circulation weeks ago after the snap-together plastic case cracked at the seam. How about some screws? Metal would be nice. We've barely driven the i MiEV and we've already proven that there's no way the remote could survive 4 years of swinging around at the end of a keychain, getting lighty tossed onto a nightstand or banging around inside a purse.

A smartphone app would have been far better on so many levels. 

Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing @ 1,446 miles  

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2012 Mitsubishi i-MiEV: Still Charging After All These Hours

July 10, 2012

2012_mitsubishi_i-miev_1600_r34_home_charge_KAW.jpg 

Our 2012 Mitsubishi i-MiEV has been plugged in continuously for exactly 12 hours now, and so far 10.27 kWh of juice has passed through the cord. And no, it's not full yet. I predicted 15 hours last night, and that's looking like a solid guess at this point.

Normal charging losses amount to 10-15%, so from the battery's point of view the i MiEV has taken on roughly 9 kWh in half a day, a 120V charge rate that works out to 0.75 kWh per hour of plug-in time.

Sharp-eyed math heads will notice the hour term cancels itself out, leaving us with 0.75 kW. But I don't think this simplifed unit is as self explanatory as saying 0.75 kWh of battery fill per hour of charge time.

In similar circumstances the Leaf charges at something like 1.15 kWh per hour (1.15 kW) and Honda's as yet unconfirmed Fit EV performance claims suggest an observed 120V charge rate of 1.3 kWh per hour (1.3 kW). The relative pecking order between the i MiEV and Leaf is much the same on 240V, but I don't have the appropriate test data just yet.

Still, it turns out one of the chief measures of EV performance has do with how fast they are when they're parked.

Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing @ 1,371 miles

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2012 Mitsubishi i-MiEV: Shrek Has Good News

July 09, 2012

2012_mitsubishi_i-miev_1600_ip_57.8_trip.jpg 

I finally found the time needed to try our 2012 Mitsubishi i-MiEV on my long commute. Time is the operative word here because the Mitsu will need much more than a 12-hour overnight charge to replenish its battery on the 120V shore power I have at home. Mitsubishi says it takes a full 22 hours to refill an empty i MiEV battery at that voltage, in fact.

But I did arrive home to some good news: I only used about 2/3rds of the battery in getting here despite a couple of short sides trips that upped my trip distance to 57.8 miles. At this point it may take "only" 15 hours to refill the thing.

 

In pure range terms, the DTE meter (Distance to Empty) claims I can travel a further 26 miles if I continue at the less than torrid traffic-dampened freeway pace that brought me here. Add this figure to the trip meter and you get a theoretical ultimate range of 83.8 miles on a day that featured 45-50 mph freeway speeds and zero use of air conditioning.

I fully expect that number to shrink with clear traffic (and the A/C on, as it will be later this week.)

The MiEV acquitted itself well today -- much better than I expected -- but I still think it's not ideally suited to someone that lives 45 miles from work, as I do. It can't make the 90-mile round trip on a single charge, and at this early stage of EV infrastructure development I think that EV wannabees need to assume that one charge per day -- at home, overnight on 240V -- is all they'll have to work with.

Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing @ 1,375 miles

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2012 Mitsubishi i-MiEV: May and June Fuel Economy Update

July 03, 2012

2012_mitsubishi_i-miev_1600_f34_cord_RM.jpg  

A funny thing happened when I was researching my story on the 2013 Honda Fit EV: I discovered that our 2012 Mitsubishi i-MiEV also uses Toshiba's advanced SCiB Lithium-Ion battery cells, the ones with the Lithium Titanate Oxide (LTO) anodes that charge and discharge more quickly.

In the Fit EV the LTO batteries are part of the recipe that allows the use of 6.6 kilowatt charging circuitry that can draw 240V power at 32 amps and charge its 20 kWh battery in about three hours. The Leaf takes over twice as long because its charger only operates a 3.3 kilowatts.

But despite its trick LTO batteries, our i MiEV somehow manages to charge at a lower rate than even the Leaf. I have not yet confirmed why, but the 7-hour charge time suggests that Mitsubishi makes do with a 3.3 kilowatt on-board charging circuit, maybe less.

July 5 UPDATE: I have confirmed that the i MiEV does use a 3.3 kilowatt charger. I have also confirmend that the i MiEV does have Toshiba LTO batteries -- in Japan. Mitsubishi USA thinks the US model might NOT have the Toshiba batteries, though. Instead the US model may use the older Yuasa non-LTO Lithium-Ion batteries, but they are confirming this with Japan.

Mitsubishi seems to have put all their eggs into the 480V quick-charge basket, which can restore the battery to 80% in just 30 minutes using a commercial grade Level 3 charger--if you can find one.

The Fit EV doesn't suppoert Level 3 charging, but until those become commonplace I like Honda's approach because 240V Level 2 chargers are what EV users will install at home.

Vehicle

Battery

(kWh)

Time

(240/120V)

Range

(miles)

Consumption(kWh/100)

2012 Mitsubishi i-MiEV

16

7 / 22.5

62

30

2011 Nissan Leaf

24

7 / 21

73

34

2013 Honda Fit EV

20

3 / 15

82

29

And though it's true the i MiEV consumes far less electricity over a given distance than the Leaf, it manages to trail behind the Fit EV in this regard even though it weighs 673 pounds less than the Honda.

In addition to any battery differences that may exist, this may ironically boil down to the Fit EV's substantially more powerful electric motor, which at 92 kW is almost twice as stout as the 49 kW unit found in the i MiEV. This works to the Fit's advantage because EV's electric motor is also the generator that vacuums up kinetic energy during periods of downhill coasting and braking, and on that score the Fit EV is better equipped to recover and recycle braking energy while on the move than the i MiEV.

But this is supposed to be about consumption. How did our i MiEV do over the last 8 weeks?

 

2012 Mitsubishi i-MiEV

Best

Worst

Average

EPA

Electricity (kWh/100 mi)

22.0

36.5

29.2

30

     Observed Range (miles)

49.8

 

 

62

2011 Nissan Leaf

Best

Worst

Average

EPA

Electricity (kWh/100 mi)

22.0

53.8

33.7

34

     Observed Range (miles)

76.7

 

 

73

 

With 1271 miles of data, our average consumption has improved from 29.2 kW/100 miles to 27.8. That's a great improvement, but it's also distorted somewhat by the reluctant attitude certain long-distance editors have towards driving the Mitsubishi home.

Short range combined with slow 120V charging times (nobody has cracked open their wallet a sprung for a 240V home charger just yet) make it hard for half the staff to even consider it. It's not too hard to deal with one characteristic or the other, but both in the same car is a real challenge.

I'm sure I could make it home, for example, but with a 22.5-hour 120V recharge time I'd have to know I wasn't going in to the office the next day (and didn't have any errands to run, either) in order to make sure I'd have a full charge for the next morning's commute. A dedicated 240V charger at home would do the job easily overnight, but I don't have one.

And so our MiEV is being driven primarily by staffers that live really close, hence the low total mileage accumulation, very good city-dominated consumption and mediocre "best" range.

You can bet I'll make arrangements to get in and drive it home before too long. It's still early days. And I'll coax some others with longer drives to give it a whirl, too.

Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing @ 1,271 miles 

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2012 Mitsubishi iMiev: Works for My Commute

May 02, 2012

 iMiev.jpg Our recently departed Chevrolet Volt was a great fit for my commute. I could make the 37 mile round trip in all-electric mode, despite having to go up a long, fairly steep hill through the Sepulveda Pass, which links West Los Angeles with the San Fernando Valley. And now that we have our long term Mitsubishi iMiev, I was anxious to see how it would handle the trip to and from work.

I left the office with an estimated 67 miles of range. I accelerated slowly to keep the needle in the "eco" range, but generally kept with the flow of traffic. The weather was mild, so I didn’t need to have the climate control on. I switched the car into Eco mode whenever I ran into stop-and-go traffic.

The range dropped a few points going up the hill, but I was in traffic and the car wasn't going very fast, so I wasn’t worried about running out of charge. When I arrived at home, I had traveled 18.6 miles. The estimated range read 51 miles. This was much better than I anticipated.

I had planned on charging at home, but since I had three quarters of the "tank" remaining, I figured it was safe to test the round-trip range. After all, few EV owners are able to charge on both ends, so this would be a good real-world test of the car’s worth as a daily driver.

I drove to work the following morning and made a brief stop at the Starbucks drive-through. I drove with the same technique -- D mode for normal driving, and Eco mode when I ran into traffic. There was a fair amount of traffic in the morning, which allowed me to regenerate energy due to the frequent braking. I pulled into the office 18.9 miles later with an estimated 50 miles of range, or about half of the "fuel," as shown on the gauge at the left in this photo.

I doubt I could really have traveled another 50 miles (the car’s EPA rating is 63 miles total), but it was nice to know that if I owned this car, I could still make a few other small trips before having to charge.

 

Ron Montoya, Consumer Advice Editor @ 784 miles

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2012 Mitsubishi i-MiEV: April Fuel Economy Update

May 01, 2012

2012_mitsubishi_i-miev_1600_fuel_door.jpg 

Truth be told, we've only had our 2012 Mitsubishi i-MiEV about 1.5 months. The following tally includes the latter half of March, so you're getting 50% more for free.

Such a deal.

First, a few relevant i MiEV stats: In a standard "combined" mix of city/highway driving, the EPA says the i MiEV will consume 30 kWh per 100 miles traveled. That breaks down to 27 kWh/100 city and 34 kWh/100 highway. As always, lower is better when it comes to comsuption in kWh/100.

And then there's this:

Long Term Vehicle

Weight

(lbs)

Battery

(kWh)

Range

(miles)

Consumption

(kWh/100)

2012 Mitsubishi i-MiEV

2,579

16

62

30

2011 Nissan Leaf

3,375

24

73

34

2011 Chevrolet Volt

3,781

16

35

36

The i MiEV's official electricity consumption rating of 30 kWh per 100 miles comapres quite favorably to that of the Nissan Leaf and a fully-charged Chevrolet Volt.

And the EPA also says the i MiEV can manage 62 miles range from its 16 kWh battery, the same battery capacity that delivers just 35 miles in a Chevy Volt. Similarly, the i MiEV gives up just 11 miles of range to the Nissan despite a battery that's only two-thirds as big.

Simply put, the Mitsu pulls this off because it weighs 1,200 pounds less than a Volt and 800 pound less than a Leaf.

OK, fine. But how is the 2012 Mitsubishi i-MiEV really doing?

   

Long-Term Vehicle

E-Consumption

(kWh/100)

E-Range

(miles)

EPA

Avg. Actual

EPA

Best Actual

2012 Mitsubishi i-MiEV

30

29.2

62

49.8

2011 Nissan Leaf

34

33.7

73

89.9

2011 Chevrolet Volt

36

34.2

35

54.6

 

Our Mitsubishi i MiEV is starting off on the right foot from a consumption standpoint, beating the EPA rating just like the others did. Unlike gasoline EPA ratings, EV electricity consumption ratings are proving easy to beat.

On the range front we have some work to do. It's not that our i MiEV can't go farther than 49.8 miles, it's just that those that live far away, like me, haven't taken it home yet. So far it has mostly been in the hands of the locals, those that live close enough to make the round trip on the one charge it gets here at work.

This is the case because the iMiEV charges very s-l-o-w-l-y on 120V home current. Mitsubishi says it takes 22.5 hours to recharge an empty i MiEV battery on home current. A Volt with a same-sized battery takes just 12 hours to charge on 120V, something that is easily accomplished overnight. You don't really need a 240V charger if you own a Volt, but you do with the i MiEV. Rate of charge on home current is probably the Mitsu's biggest drawback.

As for the Volt, it's average range was 37 miles compared to a rating of 35. It's easy to squeeze every last kWh out of a Volt because, well, you can (and do) run it all the way down to zero as a matter of course.

Getting to 54.6 miles was simply a matter of optimum traffic conditons (bad, but always moving) and a who-cares attitude towards running out on the side of the freeway. But range anxiety will never allow true EVs to beat their range rating as soundly and as regularly as a Volt can.

Still, the i MiEV can and will do better. We'll determine the useful length of its leash in the coming weeks.

Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing @ 784 miles

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2012 Mitsubishi i-MiEV: No Graphs, No Bushes

April 27, 2012

imiev gauges.jpg

I finally drove the Mitsubish i MiEV and wasn't sure what to expect as far as the gauges that show range and whether I'm driving efficiently or not . Would there be a bar graph? A pie chart? Perhaps a bush (like the Fusion hybrid) that grows leaves the more gingerly I tread on the gas...I mean electric pedal? 

To my relief this electric car didn't give me the old razzle dazzle -- I prefer my instruments easy to read at a glance and devoid of gimmickry. So the simple setup in the Mitsu suits me fine.

There's a needle whose movement indicates whether you're guzzling electricity, driving conservatively or sending  juice (via regenerative braking) back to the battery pack. As you've likely guessed, if you want to maximize your range you want to keep the needle in the green. "Fuel" level is shown on the left along with drive selection while the right hand gauge toggles between remaining range, trip mileage, total mileage, next service mileage and outside temperature. 

John DiPietro, Automotive Editor @ 746 miles

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2012 Mitsubishi i-MiEV: I Don't Read

April 11, 2012

i_miev_f34_clouds.jpg

It turns out I didn't read the long-term introduction for our 2012 Mitsubishi i-MiEV very carefully. Otherwise, I would have heeded this passage penned by Mike Magrath:

The feds give the i MiEV a driving range of only 62 miles. Our long-term Nissan Leaf had an EPA rating of 99 MPGe but managed 73 miles of range on the feds' test. During our year with that EV, we found that the Leaf had a realistic range of 86 miles with our driving habits. Your guess is as good as ours as to what we'll get with the Mitsubishi.

Last night I set out for Monterey Park, California, which is a 48-mile round trip. No problem, I thought, our Mini E used to make that trip so easily. This expedition was preceded by a 1.5-mile round trip to the grocery store.

Traffic was light, meaning I had to go about 65-70 mph on the drive out to the San Gabriel Valley. On the way back, it rained, reducing speeds but necessitating use of potentially battery-draining accessories like the windshield wipers.

After about 39 miles, the low battery light (aka, low fuel light) began flashing. And about 45 miles into the trip, the dreaded amber turtle illuminated.

 

Fortunately, the Mitsubishi is capable of adequately protecting itself from garden-variety driver stupidity. Nothing horrible happened. I drove a half-mile farther on the freeway at about 60 mph (sensing no reduction in power), then exited and drove the remaining 4 miles on familiar surface streets, which would provide a safer place to pull over if need be.

I parked the Mitsu overnight, then drove it a short distance to the office in the morning where it's now charging normally. Total trip distance was 49.8 miles (above photo was taken before the final 0.8).

So it would seem that range will be far more of a factor with the i than with the Mini E or Nissan Leaf -- but the Mitsu has another tool at its disposal: a Level 3 charger. And there just so happens to be a quick-charge station (capable of restoring 80-percent charge in under 30 minutes) on the way to Orange County.

Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 636 miles

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