The 2012 Mitsubishi MiEV is an electric car that might have staying power. (Photo by Terry Parkhurst)
The Mitsubishi MiEV might change the landscape for commuters in a fashion similar to the way that the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla did in the early 1980s. With a range of just 67 miles, before a driver gets into the zone where the batteries need to be recharged, it takes a bit of accomodation; but it also is the most affordable way to commute by using only electricity, that's offered by a major auto manufacturer.
The standard list price is $29,125.00, and with an applicable Federal tax credit of $7,500 that's in place to encourage the prolifferation of electric vehicles, the cost drops to just $21,625.00.
The exterior design, coupled with its diminitive size, draws comments such as "Is that a real car?" (as it did during one photo session). But the fact that Mitisubishi has an 8 year/10,000 mile warranty on the 88 cell, 330 volt lithium-ion battery pack indicates that indeed it is.
Thanks to the tall roof, the interior is roomy if ordinary; however, this is a case of where the word - ordinary - is comforting. The controls are easily understood and fall readily to hand.
The shifter has three settings in the MiEV: "D", for maxium torque; "Eco" to reduce battery consumption; and "B" to increase regenerative brake biasing to augment enery recycling. (Photo by Terry Parkhurst)
Features on any MiEV - whether the base model ES of the upgrade SE ($31,125.00, before the $7,500 tax credit) - inside the cabin include: an electric manual air-conditioner with micron filter; an electric compressor cabin heater; a driver's side heated seat; a four-speaker, 100-watt AM/FM/CD audio system with MP3/WMA playback; and an auxiliary 12 volt DC power system.
There are three ways to recharge the MiEV. The one that comes with the car is a 120 volt/8 amp, Level 1 portable charging cable that plugs into a standard wall outlet; its estimated charging time, from a low battery to a complete recharge is 22.5 hours.
This 120 volt charger comes with the Mitsubishi MiEV and can plug into an electrical outlet. A complete charge with it takes an estimated 22.5 hours. Those who can afford an electrician to do the job properly, might want to have a 220 volt charging system put into their car port or garage. (Photo by Terry Parkhurst)
An Eaton EVSE charging system will reduce the estimated re-charge time for a completely empty battery to just 7 hours. The least amount of time to recharge comes with a CHAdeMO level 3 charger, such as you'd find at a public charging system; that sort of charger requires an optional DC charging port, available as an option from Mitsubishi. The time a level 3 charger takes to produce an 80 percent charge in a completele depleted battery is about 30 minutes.
The way that the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) has devised to rate the fuel economy of the MiEV is something that requires a bit of engineering insight. It's called MPGe and stands for "Miles Per Gallon Equivalent." It measures the average distance travelled per unit of energy consumed as it relates to an alternative powered vehicle. It's based on the fact that one gallon of gasoline is equivalent to 115,000 BTUs (British Thermal Units) and the fact that 115,000 BTUs is equal to 33.7 kWh (kilowatt hours) of electricity.
In the case of the MiEV (North American specifications), the EPA has determined that it requires 30 kWh to travel a distance of 100 miles. From that, is derived the figure of a combined city and highway average of 112 MPGe.
Notable is the fact that while almost all internal combustion engines achieve greater fuel economy on the open road - think freeway - than in city driving, the opposite is true of an electric automobile (or truck). The reason is that an electric can gain a great deal of free energy, due to regenerative braking; due to the stop-and-go driving frequently necessary within most any city.
Given that, the EPA estimates that the annual cost for fuel - think electricity - for the MiEV is just $500. In fact, the EPA estimates that you'd save $9,850 over five years with a MiEV. For that kind of money, Americans might be able to learn to live with the inherent challenges of a car that has a range of 67 miles before needing more of what it takes to drive it. -- Terry Parkhurst
Recommended site: For a complete road test of the 2012 Mitisubishi MiEV look at: http://www.newcartestdrive.com
Note: If you have any trouble with the link provided to NewCarTestDrive.com, please leave mention of this in the comments section.