2012 Mitsubishi i-MiEV Long Term Road Test

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2012 Mitsubishi i-MiEV: Quick Charger

October 5, 2012

2012 Mitsubishi i-MiEV

The guys at Mitsubishi were telling us that they had set up a station to recharge i MiEVs, so we rushed right down there.

Actually "rushed" might not be the right term, since we drove down to Mitsubishi HQ at 60 mph, which Mitsubishi product engineer Dave Wong tells us is the sweet spot for freeway cruising -- a speed that gets you there, yet doesn't suck more juice out of your battery than you expect. 

Life is surprisingly different over there in the slow lane. First of all, 60 mph is just fine, and you don't need to worry about getting run down from behind, even in Los Angeles. There are trucks, though not as many as you'd think. There are interesting cars of the past, though not as many as you might think. And the standard of driving and the relative level of civility might be a little higher than in the left lanes (turn signals are occasionally used while maneuvering, for example). Of course, the wobblers in the right lane are indeed frequently terrifying.

This Level 3 Eaton DC quick-charger is rated at 50 kW, so you get a significantly faster charging experience than you do with the 3.3 kW charger than an EV like the Mitsubishi i MiEV or Nissan Leaf carries on board. (6.6 kW chargers are just entering the EV market with cars like the Ford Focus EV.) Indeed it turns out that the charger itself is the real limiting factor in the speed of recharging process, not the capacity of the EV battery.

In any case, we showed up at Mitsubishi with about a 50 percent charge of the iMiEV's battery after the 37 mile trip from Santa Monica. We plugged into the Eaton DC and then left for lunch, and I'll bet the charging was completed before we ever got to that Peruvian place in nearby Buena Park.

L3 DCQCs like this one will start showing up in public places as EVs become more common. As they do, it'll be possible to extend the useful driving range of an EV, since you'll be able to power up on the go. Maybe you'll even start lunching at Peruvian restaurants.

Michael Jordan, Executive Editor, Edmunds.com 

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2012 Mitsubishi i-MiEV: Got It for a Week

September 14, 2012

2012 Mitsubishi i-MiEV

I'll be on staycation next week and I'm taking the 2012 Mitsubishi i-MiEV with me.

I like driving electric cars because of the feeling of instant torque. But we'll see if its limited range and slow at-home charging capability become a problem for me.

Let me know if there is anything specific you want me to test while I'm away.

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

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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: Shifter Could Be Better

June 26, 2012

i-miev_shifter.jpg

Maneuvering our long-term Mitsubishi i MiEV in parking lots is easy-peasy, but I do wish the shifter moved more fluidly between its gates. Whenever I try to go from E or D to Reverse, it invariably hangs up in Neutral, and then it takes another firm push to get it into R.

Certainly not the first time I've encountered this scenario in a car, but in an urban runabout with a single-speed transmission, I'd expect the transitions between going forward and backing up to require a bit less thought and effort.

Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 1,243 miles

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2012 Mitsubishi i-MiEV: Not So Bad on the Freeway

June 23, 2012

i_miev_donut.jpg

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

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2012 Mitsubishi i-MiEV: Geographic Desirability

June 14, 2012

i_miev_driveway.jpg

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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2012 Mitsubishi i-MiEV: Hey! I'm Driving Here!

June 01, 2012

mitsubishiimiev 007.jpg
Since electric cars are oh-so stealthy, I found that it's important to have an authoritative horn in order to let unsuspecting pedestrians and distracted drivers know you're there when they clearly don't see/hear you. This is especially true while in our 2012 Mitsubishi i-MiEV, whose miniature dimensions seem to render it invisible to L.A. drivers. Just coming in to the office today, I've had three separate incidents of people switching over into my lane while I'm still in it.

The drivers' reactions to the Mitsu's horn usually unfold in the following ways:
1) "Who's honking?"
2) Check their mirror.
3) Straddle the line to see if I'm serious.
4) Return to their lane reluctantly.

In addition to having a serious horn, I also have to give the MiEV props for its responsive brakes. Pfew!

Caroline Pardilla, Deputy Managing Editor

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2012 Mitsubishi i-Miev: Natural Habitat

May 25, 2012

pcf.jpg 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

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2012 Mitsubishi i-MiEV: Sproing Update

May 14, 2012

MievSproingUpdate.jpg 

I had a theory on the mystery of the Sproing, and now I have confirmation. My contact at Mitsubishi promptly replied to my query with, "I just talked to our R&D team here and we believe your assumption is correct with the ABS for this noise."

Good enough for me. No more worrying that I busted a rubberband or ran over a Kangaroo.

Mark Takahashi, Automotive Editor @ 943 miles

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2012 Mitsubishi i-MiEV: What Was That?

May 11, 2012

MievSproing.jpg 

When I first start rolling out of its parking spot next its charging station, I hear a weird "sproing" noise. It's as if I drove over some sort of metallic spring plate. I couldn't figure it out, so I went to the one place where everything you read is true.

 

That's right, I went to the internet.

A quick scan through some message boards turned up the theory that the source of the noise is the antilock brake system testing itself. Now, I don't believe everything I read (I'm going to try telling the officer that the next time I get caught rolling through a stop sign), so I sent a message over to Mitsubishi to get a solid answer.

I'll let you know what they say. In the meantime, what do you think it is?

Mark Takahashi, Automotive Editor @ 943 miles

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2012 Mitsubishi i-MiEV: I'm Trying To Like You But You're Not Helping

May 03, 2012

mitsubishi_i-miev_driving.jpg

Let me preface this post by saying that I like driving electric cars. I like the instant torque, the regenerative braking, "refueling" at home. I enjoyed our Mini E test car and the Nissan Leaf.

But this Mitsubishi is not doing it for me. I don't like that it looks like a pod. Our previous electric cars looked like normal cars and had decent interiors. The i Miev -- take the electric part out of the equation -- is not a good car. It's strange looking, it's too light, and is full of hard plastic bits in the interior and doesn't have enough cupholders.

The last time I drove it, I was on city streets and when I did venture onto the freeway, I was stuck in traffic and didn't get to go very fast. Last night I got to drive the car at normal highway speeds. The car feels so light that it takes work to keep it in between the lines. It bounces around at every tiny bump and struggles against the lightest of breezes. It's like punting a soccer ball down the freeway. And it let me get passed by a Smart car on the 405.

The cabin fills with wind noise even just driving it down my home block. The shifter does not light up at night. With three driving options (D, Eco and B), it helps to be able to see what you are selecting. I had to put on the overhead lamp to make my choice.

I was ready to like this car. I'm open-minded about EVs. But this car isn't helping its own cause.

To be fair, there are some things that it does well. It has nice take off when you put your foot down. I appreciate the simplicity of its gauges. It doesn't feel the need to clutter up the dash with graphics that scream "I'm Electric." It has a nice optional back-up camera. And the view out the front is wide and clear.

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor @ 845 miles

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2012 Mitsubishi i-MiEV: Did I Hurt It?

April 25, 2012

Mitsubishiimiev 004.jpg
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

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2012 Mitsubishi i-MiEV: Switching Gears

April 12, 2012

MievShifter.jpg 

What you see here is our i MiEV'sgear selector. Nothing too far out of place here, but its operation could be better. Then there's that Eco mode.

I'll start with the actual selecting of gears. The shifter clunks from position to position with a decent, positive engagement, and that's a good thing in my book. My problem arises when I'm trying to transition from drive to reverse. Without looking at the gates as you're moving between gears, it feels as though you're just blindly bumping into obstructions. And you're never quite sure you've found the right gate.

There is a gear indicator in the instrument panel, but it's rather small. So unless I become very familiar with this car (let's say if I keep it for a week) it'll take longer for me to execute multiple-point turns.

Then there's Eco Mode. Drop the i MiEV into drive and it's not like it's a fun little rocketship; the way our Mini E was. No, it drives more like a personal transportation pod. Select Eco mode and it feels as though you're driving through a foot-and-a-half of semi-solidified Jell-O. Sure, I've driven other cars with Eco modes and they generally relax throttle response the way you'd expect. In the I MiEV, it truly feels as though something is pushing against you from outside.

In heavy traffic, it's certainly not that big of a deal. You get used to other drivers swerving into the gap in front of you. After a while, you come to expect it. Off topic: I will never get used to typing "i MiEV." In Microsoft Word, the "i" automatically gets switched to uppercase and the mix of upper and lowercase in "MiEV" makes me feel like I'm trying to spell Sarah Jessica Parker's name in L.A. Story (SanDeE).

Mark Takahashi, Automotive Editor @ 644 miles

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