Mitsubishi will use the L.A. auto show to unveil a U.S.-market version of its petite i-MiEV electric car. The i-MiEV has been on sale in Japan since 2009, and will bow in several European countries this December.
The U.S. i-MiEV’s body has been enlarged, and both the front and rear bumpers have been redesigned for compliance with our crash-test regulations. As a result, the car is 11.2 inches longer and 4.3 inches wider than the Japanese-spec model, offering more interior space—although at just 144.9 inches by 62.4, it still casts a smaller shadow than the Toyota Yaris hatchback. U.S.-spec cars also will receive different interior fabrics and option packages than European or Asian models, but no specifics on those things has been released.
The car’s mechanicals are unchanged from the Japanese model’s. Thus, the powertrain still combines a 63-hp electric motor with a 16-kWh lithium-ion battery. Mitsubishi claims a top speed of 81 mph and a driving range of 45 to 75 miles on one charge, which is in line with our real-world experience after driving a prototype in L.A.. A full charge on a 110-volt household circuit takes about 12 hours.
The i-MiEV is set to go on sale here in late 2011, by which time competitors such as the Chevrolet Volt and Nissan Leaf will already be in consumers’ driveways. Before factoring in various state and federal tax incentives for electric-vehicle purchases, Mitsubishi is aiming for a price tag of around $30,000, just below that of the Leaf. At that price, the i-MiEV may be a tough sell, as the Nissan is a good deal larger and feels more substantial and more like a real car.
Thanks to: Car and Driver