2012 Mitsubishi i-MiEV Review – Video

2012 Mitsubishi i-MiEV Drive Review – Video
Jeff Cobb February 18, 2013 | Edit

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Launched in Japan in 2009, Mitsubishi’s i-MiEV was the first of the new all-electric vehicles on the market. The subcompact city car was introduced in Europe, Asia and Australia in 2010, the U.S. and Canada in December 2011 and was made available in all 50 American states by June 2012.

Counting i-MiEVs in South America and rebadged versions by Citroen and Peugeot, over 27,000 units have been sold worldwide. The i-MiEV is a pioneer toward more plug-in vehicles to follow by the Japanese automaker. It is a rather bold initiative contrasting with tentative efforts by some other manufacturers that have been slower to roll out products or are selling them with yet-limited availability.

If you’re wondering why we’re posting a 2012 model drive review for 2013 it’s because Mitsubishi has chosen not to change the 2012 i-MiEV or even update its model year designation. That’s right, the 2012 will carry forward as a 2012 into 2013.

Caption: In Europe the i-MiEV is also sold as the Citroën C-Zero and Peugeot ion.
Overview

The i-MiEV is EPA-rated for 62 miles range and has a limited – but slowly growing – U.S. audience. Among all-electric cars sold nationwide, the zero-emissions i-MiEV is the most energy efficient delivering 99 MPGe highway, 126 city, 112 combined.

If you want another perspective on the i-MiEV, you can read our previous review http://www.hybridcars.com/miitsubishi-all-electric-car-2010-imiev/ but in brief, it began life in Japan as the gas-powered Mitsubishi i – a “kei” class commuter. Launched in 2006, the gas-powered versions were themselves unorthodox with rear-wheel-drive and midship-mounted engine options. When converted to EV duties, Mitsubishi retained the layout placing the electric motor above the rear axle, and 16-kwh lithium-ion Mitsubishi-Yuasa battery pack and motor controller under the floor.

The i-MiEV uses almost all of its 16-kwh supply too. This could be considered another bold move and very unlike GM’s engineering which conservatively limited its first- and second-year Chevy Volt to using just 65 percent of its 16-kwh capacity. The idea behind a “buffer” of unused energy is to prevent over-working the battery and theoretically prolong its life. Mitsubishi would not specify details, but says it is not nearly as much.
To date we’ve not heard of any pattern of failures due to this high-strung arrangement, and it was deemed best given the i-MiEV has limited energy storage – so it uses more of it to accomplish reasonable range.

While a small car in any case, the U.S. and Canadian i-MiEV was stretched 11 inches longer than the Japanese/Euro version, 4 inches wider, a half inch taller. At 2,579 pounds, our version weigh about 180 pounds more, but they are still featherweight compared to larger EVs like the Nissan Leaf or Ford Focus Electric.

Mitsubishi utilizes battery air cooling similar to the Leaf. The i-MiEV’s battery cooling system can also draw cold air from its air conditioning unit to help with cooling but this setup is less sophisticated than the liquid cooled (and heated) battery in the Ford Focus Electric, for example.
Vehicle Facts
99 city MPGe / 126 Hwy MPGe

BODY TYPE: Hatchback
TECHNOLOGY: Electric
POWER: 66 hp / 145 lb.-ft.
TRANSMISSION: Single speed
RANGE: 62 miles
SEATING: Five
BASE MSRP: $29,125

The powertrain is simple also, with a single-speed fixed reduction transmission routing energy from the 49-kw synchronous permanent magnetic motor that develops the electric equivalent of 66 horsepower and 145 pound-feet of torque. It has three drive modes – standard D, energy saving Eco, and regenerative-brake enhancing B.

It will charge on house current via a 3.3-kw onboard charger but replenishing almost 16 kilowatt hours can take 22.5 hours. More realistically, it charges via a 240-volt level II charger that does the job in seven hours – and optionally – a 480-volt level III through a separate CHAdeMO DC charger port puts an 80-percent full charge back in 30 minutes.
Outwardly funky, inwardly plain

As for the exterior appearance – you can pick your own terms – but we’d say it looks diminutive, kind of neat, sort of like a jelly bean. Some observers may be less charitable in their descriptions and that is their prerogative.

It is a tiny little car, and in this society where all-too-often you are judged by what you drive, if you encase yourself in this bright-eyed virtual exoskeleton, some may see you as having made a sensible, ecologically oriented choice; others may see you as a runt.
The SE model we drove comes with infotainment in an otherwise fairly spartan design.

The SE model we drove comes with infotainment in an otherwise fairly spartan design.

Inside, the i-MiEV’s interior styling does not echo the exterior’s micro avante-garde theme and is standard-issue automotive.
i-MiEV_SE-interior

Our upper level SE model did have a decent infotainment system. It and the base ES rise above bare bones with remote keyless entry, power windows, locks and side mirrors. They also come with air-conditioning, a four-speaker audio system with a CD player and an auxiliary jack for connectivity.

That’s a healthy list, but the overall design lacks the gee-whiz factor other higher priced electrified vehicles like to show off. If you want an indicator that Mitsubishi did not break the piggybank on interior (re)engineering, under the dash panel’s right-side is the hood-release – a holdover from the right-side-drive home market version.
i-MiEV_back seat