2012 Mitsubishi i - First Drive, U.S.-spec MiEVEnlarge Photo
Mitsubishi is so pleased with the reaction to its 2012 i electric car that it has decided to move its plans to launch the car nationwide forward by six months.
The four-seat subcompact hatchback, which retails at between $29,125 and $33,915 before Federal or local incentives, wasn’t due to be available nationwide until December 2012. Now Mitsubishi bosses have said the car will be available to customers in all 50 states by June 2012.
Talking to Automotive News at the 2011 Tokyo Motor Show, Mitsubishi President Osamu Masuko said the decision to advance the car’s rollout was made after last month’s annual U.S. dealer conference, when he was inundated with dealer requests for the all-electric car.
“We shifted the timing by six months, so we are preparing ourselves to launch for the entire country by June,” Masuko conformed. “That must demonstrate our high expectations for this product.”
While sales of the 2012 Mitsubishi i are already underway in Oregon, Washington, California, Hawaii and Illinois, Mitsubishi has yet to deliver its first car to a customer in the U.S. That is expected to happen some time this month.
But while Mitsubishi is behind rivals Nissan and Chevrolet in bringing a plug-in electric car to the market, a novel advertising campaign, not to mention the lowest sticker price of any mainstream electric car on the market looks to be helping it gain significant interest from consumers.
Although it’s cheaper however, the 2012 Mitsubishi i is much smaller than the larger, better-equipped 2012 Nissan Leaf. It also travels less distance per charge.
But while it will travel less distance per charge than the 2012 Nissan Leaf, Mitsubishi has a trick up its sleeve to give it the upper hand over its Japanese rival: rapid charging.
While both cars feature the capability to recharge their battery packs from empty to 80 percent full in under 30 minutes using specially-built 50 kilowatt rapid charging stations, Nissan explicitly recommends you shouldn’t use this feature more than around once a week. Pay no attention to its advice, Nissan says, and you could risk damaging your car’s battery pack.
Mitsubishi, on the other hand, positively encourages rapid charging, meaning owners of the 2012 Mitsubishi i should feel happier covering longer distances in their car than 2012 Nissan Leaf owners would.
During his interview with Automotive News, Masuko also confirmed that Mitsubishi would be bringing another electric car to the U.S. market soon -- an all-electric version of Mitsubishi's Mirage global small car.
In the coming months, expect more information about Mitsubishi’s rollout plans, including when its road-tour will be near you and when ordering will officially open for your state.