Mitsubishi’s tiny egg-shaped electric car known as the 2012 Mitsubishi i is currently the cheapest electric car you can buy in the U.S.
Starting at $29,125 before incentives, the 2012 Mitsubishi i features seating for four adults, a 16 kilowatt-hour battery pack, and an EPA-approved range of 62 miles per charge.
According to Consumer Reports however, the very electric car which has worked hard to cure electriphobia just doesn’t have a large enough range to be a useable electric car.
The consumer advice organization reached its conclusion after an extended period of ownership, driving it in a variety of temperatures and road conditions from its base in Connecticut. With an average overall range of just 59 miles per charge, Consumer Reports says the Mitsubishi i just gives its drivers range anxiety.
But is it right? We’re not so convinced.
red 2012 Mitsubishi i
red 2012 Mitsubishi iEnlarge Photo
As we’ve explained before, the average single-trip distance in the U.S. is just 5.95 miles, while the average U.S. commuter travels around 13.6 miles to and from work.
That’s far less than the 50+ mile round trips that Consumer Reports staff members have been asking of its Mitsubishi i.
Lower cost = lower range
As Consumer Reports fairly notes, the 2012 Mitsubishi i is almost $5,000 cheaper than the 2012 Nissan Leaf.
Part of the reduced cost can be explained by the difference in battery capacity between the two packs: the Nissan Leaf’s pack holds 24 kilowatt-hours of charge, while the Mitsubishi i’s pack holds just 16.
With a reduced battery capacity, the Mitsubishi i -- while more energy efficient than the Nissan Leaf -- can’t travel as far per charge.
It’s more a city car
2012 Mitsubishi i - First Drive, U.S.-spec MiEV
2012 Mitsubishi i - First Drive, U.S.-spec MiEVEnlarge Photo
While the Mitsubishi i’s top speed of 81 mp is more than adequate to allow it to keep up with traffic on the fastest of freeways, its four-seat interior and relatively small cargo space means it is better suited to life as a city car than most car.
In practical terms and in most major cities, that should mean you’re never far from a level 2 recharging station or if you’re lucky, a rapid charging Chademo station.
Right, or wrong?
With the cheapest sticker price of any electric car on the market today, the 2012 Mitsubishi i brings electric car driving within the reach of many who would otherwise not be able to afford it.
But is its range too small for everyday, practical use? Or is Consumer Reports wrong in its conclusion?
Let us know in the Comments below.