Mitsubishi Starts Production Of U.S.-Bound EV

By Danny King November 2, 2011

Mits I Prod Begins lede.jpg

Mitsubishi has started production of its i electric vehicle that is destined for North America, as the Japanese automaker prepares to start selling the small car in Hawaii, California, Washington and Oregon by the end of November. The automaker also said the North American version of what's sold as the Mitsubishi i-MiEV in Japan and Europe will be torquier than overseas versions; a tire-pressure monitoring system and front and rear bumpers also will be added in order to conform to North American safety requirements.

Mitsubishi, which has sold about 16,000 i-MiEVs since debuting the model in Japan in July 2009, is looking to sell 1,500 of the electric vehicles by March 31 and 5,000 a year in the U.S. starting in 2013. The company's North American division is marketing the four-door hatchback as a zero-emissions commuter car that best complements a conventional car instead of serving as a household's only vehicle. The i, which is priced in North America at about $6,000 less than the $35,200 Nissan Leaf battery-electric vehicle, offers an EPA-rated single-charge range of about 62 miles, or 11 miles fewer than the Leaf.

The North American version of the Mitsubishi i-MiEV will be almost 145 inches long -- or about two inches shorter than the Mini Cooper hatchback -- while its motor will deliver about 145 foot-pounds of torque. The U.S.-spec 2012 i will be available in two trim packages: $29,125 for the ES version and $31,125 for the SE version. The latter includes an HDD navigation system with rear-view camera, a direct-current quick charging port and a Bluetooth system with USB port for iPods and steering wheel-mounted audio controls. However, unlike the more content-rich Leaf, the vehicle won't initially be available with a telematics system.

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