2012 Mitsubishi i Electric Minicar: Drive Report VIDEO!

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2012 Mitsubishi i, City Island, NY, Aug 2012

2012 Mitsubishi i, City Island, NY, Aug 2012

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We liked the 2012 Mitsubishi i electric minicar we drove last week rather more than we expected.

Its main handicap, even in city usage, is its low electric range.

We didn't test the car to its limits, and indeed the range indicator may be slightly pessimistic (much safer than being optimistic, needless to say).

But in 90-degree weather, the little purple car soaked up sun to the point that air conditioning was a necessity.

That turned it into an electric car with only 40 miles of range (even on the lowest setting)--and without a gasoline-powered range-extending generator, as found on the Chevy Volt and Fisker Karma.

For urban duties, however, the Mitsubishi is small, nimble, easy to park, and has enough acceleration to hold its own in stop-and-go traffic.

We put together a little video of our drive, though the navigation system managed to talk over much of what we said, leading to rather more editing than usual.

The video was taken on our trip to New York's City Island, retracing the tracks of Jerry Seinfeld, who covered the same route in the latest episode of his series, "Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee."

Of course, rather than a purple electric minicar, Seinfeld drove it in in a gorgeous silver-blue classic 1967 Austin-Healey 3000 sports car--with a frequently terrified Ricky Gervais riding shotgun.

In the end, range aside, the main challenge of the electric minicar for us wasn't recharging its battery.

That's viewed as the great impediment to electric-car use by anyone who doesn't have a single-family home with a garage to hold a personal Level 2 charging station, meaning apartment dwellers and city residents without dedicated parking spaces.

We're lucky to have a ChargePoint public charging station in a parking garage less than five minutes' walk from home.

The shock was the cost of the parking, plus the cost of the charging itself. 

But that's another article.

Let us know what you think of our video--and the Mitsubishi i--in the Comments below.


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Comments (5)
  1. Thanks for a great first hand report. I think the "i" would work for my 20 mile (round-trip) commute, but am more tempted by the LEAF.

  2. The Sufficient "i". The Leaf may be more practical. The "i" (i-miev) is personally attractive. Thanks for the mileage comment. I hope when I lease/purchase/whatever either Mitsu improves the range or reason prevails over personal liking. Maybe a white exterior will heat less, plus, plugged in I can precool the interior. I recently drove both the "i", Leaf, and Think. Maybe I have No taste, but I couldn't see a huge difference in attactiveness or repulsiveness. Being a basic type of a person, having all the bells and whistles of the Leaf was nice, but my main interest was transportation. Plus, the Leaf wasn't showing the type of info I wanted anyway.

  3. I just don't understand how the mileage can drop so significantly when using AC in this small car. I have AC going in my LEAF pretty much all the time and it drops by a couple of miles and that's it. Electric cooling is efficient (1 - 1.5 kWh) - it's the heat that truly kills the mileage (3 - 6 kWh) - what would it be in the i in the middle of winter...

  4. The car kinda looks like a flea.

  5. I own the i and like it very much. I test drove the Leaf and while I enjoyed that car, I felt the i was a better deal. The lower cost was the number 1 decision, I didn't need all the bells and whistles that Leaf had. While many complain the i doesn't have enough range, I found that to be a non-issue. I have 85km commute that I use the i for everyday. The i does very well in this mode and most of that is highway. The i also has a lot of interior space and no weird hump like the Leaf. The i also feels a lot nimbler and more fun to drive than the stodgy feeling of the Leaf. I say each to their, drive what makes sense to you but don't overlook the i in your search for an electric car. You'll find it can do more than you think.

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