While Nissan and Chevrolet have slogged it out to become the champion of the plug-in vehicle sales in the U.S., Mitsubishi Motors is gearing up to join in the fight, with the imminent launch of a new customer reservation website for its 2012 Mitsubishi i.
A fatter, wider version of the 2011 Mitsubishi i-Miev, now on sale in Europe and Asia, the 2012 Mitsubishi i has been redesigned for the U.S. market with improved safety features and a facelift.
According to Mitsubishi, customer requests for information on the 2012 i have doubled in the past month as gasoline prices around the world rise. As a consequence, Mitsubishi has promised to open up a pre-order website within 90 days to allow potential customers to sign up to be on the waiting list.
Sales are not due to start until November 2011 however, with purchase prices expected to start at around $30,000 before state and federal incentives are applied. This is a bold move, putting the four-seat car in direct competition with the larger, longer-range 2011 Nissan Leaf.
The original Japanese designed Mitsubishi i-Miev went on Sale to corporate customers in Japan in 2009, a whole year before Nissan launched its 2011 Leaf.
In late 2009, a 1 year test-fleet of 25 i-Mievs were unleashed on the British public, with leasees including electric car author Micheal Boxwell, Motoring Journalist Quentin Willson and EV advocate, actor and presenter Robert Llewellyn. After the year had ended, Willson waxed lyrical about the i-Miev, admitting he was genuinely sad about giving the car back.
Built around the gasoline-powered Mitusbishi i, a gasoline-powered kei car built to exploit local Japanese keijidÅÂsha regulations, the Japanese and European specification i-Miev is exceptionally small by U.S. standards.
Its diminutive size and shape also negatively affected its crash test results, causing it to obtain a 4 star rating in the European New Car Assessment Programme (Euro NCAP) tests.
But the U.S. specification and newly named Mitsubishi i is promised to better the safety features of its Asian and European cousins, thanks to nearly an extra foot of length and 4.5 inches of width.
The U.S. specification i will also feature additional adaptive passenger airbags, larger bumpers and an increased wheel track.