Bring It Home, Plug It In: Mitsubishi i MiEV

Last night, I did something remarkable when I got home from work. I opened the garage door, parked the car and plugged the car’s charger into an electrical outlet in my garage. Mitsubishi is allowing to test-drive its all-new i MiEV electric car for five days, and as fate would have it, I’m the only employee who lives close to the office and has a garage with an outlet inside. I’m the first employee to take home a test fleet vehicle and plug it in. 

As an automotive journalist, I’ve been listening to auto industry execs say that the next big technological breakthrough is going to revolutionize the industry. After years of hype, speculation and more than enough concept cars, an honest-to-goodness electric vehicle is in my garage. And it works. In fact, it works really well for both my professional and personal life. As a professional photographer and an urban dweller with a small family of three, meeting my standards isn’t easy. 


Here’s what I liked about the i MiEV:

  • It’s nimble and easy to maneuver in and out of traffic, and it’s quick off the line at traffic lights.  
  • When looking for parking, the car is short enough to fit in any spot. It’s not much wider than a Mazda MX-5 Miata, so it clears almost any alleyway in Chicago.  
  • The i MiEV has a decent amount of cargo room and the backseat folds down so it can carry my cameras and studio gear.  
  • The suspension is soft enough to support my spine over most of the cracks and potholes on Chicago’s streets.  
  • It’s spacious and comfortable enough to seat four adults for a night out on the town (or two adults, a dog and a child-safety seat for a day at the in-laws). 

However, there are a couple of things to keep in mind when driving an EV. You’ll need to plan your trips with this car because the last thing you want to do is run out of juice and be stranded. You’ll also need to worry about pedestrians and cyclists who won’t hear you coming in an EV; this car is that quiet. On the flip side? You’ll never need to go to the gas station with this car. Ever. That’s a decent trade-off for someone like me who lives in a city where the gas price hasn’t started with a $2 in close to four years. 


Does this mean I’d get rid of my gasoline-powered car for the i MiEV? Not a chance. I wouldn’t be comfortable driving this small EV on the highway or for long distances. However, the Mitsubishi i MiEV would be a good choice for getting around town, saving money and being (gulp) green.


By Ian Merritt | July 21, 2010 | Comments (18)
Tags: Mitsubishi



It will be interesting to see how reliable this vehicle will be in daily use. I don't trust Mitsubishi's ability to pull this off, given my experience with some of their other products.


Who can afford their monthly electric bill with that car?


Who owns the Chevy Colorado tow vehicle??

Amuro Ray


Those who can't afford to pay gas!

I dunno if u pay ur own electric bill, or even gas for ur vehicle, but last I checked (I pay 4 both), gas price is MUCH MUCH higher than electricity.


i MiEV's been out in Asia actually for quite a number of years now. Haven't read any major complaints so far (but I'm not like, checking it daily, of 'coz).


the motors and batteries are probably pretty robust, but my concern would be with the inverters and control circuitry. I hope it's a good product. @yakuba, figure $.02 per mile for ht electricity - the conversion factor works out to the equivalent of about $.75 per gallon gasoline.


I would imagine an electric to be more reliable than gas... and with it's limited range you would not be driving it as much as a gas powered.
Yakuba -
Electric power is much cheaper per mile than gas.

Is it possible to make an EV that looks like a normal car and not shaped weirdly? I would drive one if Mercedes made one that looked like a normal Mercedes. I don't like the futuristic weird shapes of many EV cars.



See: RAV4 EV, Ranger EV, Focus EV, Transit Connect EV, Tesla Roadster, Tesla Model S, etc.

Any new product is cause for concern with reliability, but thankfully we've been building all the components necessary for an electric car (with the exception of the battery) for over a hundred years. The underlying technology is rock solid, but the individual application or manufacturer could be questionable.


Dan, I don't want to sound negative but you're wrong on a couple counts. Today's EVs are nothing like those from 100 years ago. The detroit electric and the other oldsters used DC power and DC motors and were simple machines. I'm talking about today's EVs, which convert DC power from the batteries to AC for the new age, brushless induction and synchronous motors that allow for regenerative braking; using inverters, which are complex electronic devices that need liquid cooling. The integrated circuits in the battery managment and control systems are nothing like anything in the electric cars of old. There's also a ton of monitoring circuits, and intelligent on board chargers that take into account the type of battery pack they're charging in today's cars. Electric cars are simpler than ICE cars but they're much more complex than what you describe.



I see your point, but I wasn't referring to older electric cars, but electric motors all around. Industrial applications of large electric motors have been around since the invention of electricity. Inverters, integrated circuits, inductions motors, etc. are not new technologies, just a new application to automobiles. Even the newest designs have been used in a huge number of other applications already, and have had the kinks worked out a while ago.
But you're completely right that this is a whole new product, and anything with too much circuitry is prone to growing pains. I would expect there to be some reliability issues with the coming wave of EV's, but not because we haven't designed a good "component X" yet, just that "car company Y" doesn't have a lot of experience putting together an EV yet.

Best option for the family use. And you can also ride these car in city freely.


i think 100% electric vehicles like this and the MiniE and the Nissan Leaf are really only for those that drive their car to work and then drive home. until battery technology becomes more efficient, don't expect to be able to go on any road trips in an EV's except for those plug-in hybrids like the Volt and Karma.

as more and more automakers develop Lithium battery packs, range will increase. they will find ways to make the batteries hold more and last longer, and chances are they will discover some new type of battery that is even more compact and hold even more power then Li-ion and Li-polymer batteries. until then though, dont expect more than 75-100 miles in 100% EV's

Thanks Dan, The cars you mentioned look nice and "normal" and i also just saw pics of the new s400 MERC hybrid and that one is very nice looking too. Too pricy for me tho at 90k


Dan, agreed. Thanks.


i loves car.this is febrate my new car.

Mitsubishi i MiEV is small that gave us room to maneuver in traffic.

I think the MieV is perfect for those who live in tight knit urban cities with few parking spaces.

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