First came the sketch, now come the photos.

Mitsubishi has released the first official images of the U.S. version of its 2012 i-MiEV electric minicar, just a week before the car is unveiled at the 2010 Los Angeles Auto Show.

The company also released some specifications for the little i-MiEV. Against the home-market version, the i-MiEV that will be sold in the States is almost a foot longer, at 145 inches; 4.5 inches wider, at 62.5 inches; and just a hair taller, at 63.5 inches.

Both front and rear track are also 4.5 wider, at least part of that likely due to fitting larger wheels and tires than at home.

Mitsubishi says the body structure has been enhanced and enlarged to provide "plenty of space for four adults" and to meet U.S. buyer expectations. The front and rear bumpers are also new, visibly wider, and incoporating turn signal lights at the front. Despite the larger, wider wheel arches, the familiar egg-shaped i-MiEV shape remains.

Inside, the i-MiEV now includes adaptable airbags that sense passengers' seating positions and control deployment force accordingly. Other safety features include standard stability control and a tire-pressure monitoring system.

The company didn't release powertrain specs, but Asian and European market versions feature a 16-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack powering a 47-kilowatt (63-horsepower) electric motor that drives the rear wheels.

The U.S.-cycle range of that version is quoted at 60 to 80 miles, so it will be interesting to see whether the company has uprated the battery to match the 100-mile range of the new 2011 Nissan Leaf.

The U.S. model of the i-MiEV will go on sale next fall, and Mitsubishi said this summer that the price will be below $30,000, even before the Federal tax credit of $7,500 and various state and local incentives.

To date, more i-MiEVs have been sold than any other modern battery electric vehicle, though Leaf production is expected to overtake the i-MiEV sometime in 2012.

We drove the i-MiEV in late 2008, and found it surprisingly roomy for such a small car. Performance was fine for city use, though we think the home-market version we tested would be underpowered for higher-speed U.S. journeys.

We'll bring you all the details on the 2012 Mitsubishi i-MiEV as we cover the 2010 Los Angeles Auto Show next week.