We’ve heard plenty of rumors that Mitsubishi might be pulling out of the United States’ car market and it’s not hard to see why such a rumor is circulating. Let’s face facts, the automaker hasn’t exactly had a big hit in America for some time and the only real seller in their lineup is the Lancer and even that is lagging behind the competition.
It goes on as well. The Galant is old and dull, the Eclipse got fat and slow, the Endeavor is just bad and the Outlander series has the look, but not much else. Even the Lancer Evolution has been a slow seller. So, what can this company do to save themselves from becoming just a page in automotive history?
Well, that’s where the i-MiEV comes in. It might not look like a Nissan Leaf beater, but it should offer up some fierce competition.
Hit the jump to read on.
The i-MiEV is tall, narrow, and swoopy for a five-door and it makes for a funky, unique package that you’ll be able to spot from miles away when coming out of the store.
The U.S.-spec i-MiEV is 11.2 inches longer, 4.3 inches wider, and 0.2 inches taller than the JDM version. This was a wise move, as larger things tend to do better in the American market. Not to mention something as small as the JDM i-MiEV would cause many to wet themselves as they passed a semi.
Up front, that cute face could brighten up anybody’s day and the same could be said of the rear. Just think, you’ll be making the trees and the person in the car behind you happy as you drive along.
The tall roofline and long wheelbase gives the back more than adequate space for four adults and there is plenty of space for luggage and shopping bags.
It’s pretty barren on the inside, with minimal controls on the center stack and not a whole lot in the way of instrument cluster gauges. That won’t bode well for sales, as the Nissan Leaf and the Chevrolet Volt offer much more for the money.
Power comes from a 330-volt, 16-kWh battery pack that is placed under the rear cargo bay that develops 63 horsepower and 133 pound-feet of torque. Obviously, you’re not going to lining up versus sports cars, but it feels nippy around town, as it weighs as much as a feather. Torque is delivered instantly off the line thanks to there being only one gear, so there’s a smooth rush of power as soon as you press it.
The Mitsubishi has three driver modes, D, Eco, and B, just like its Toyota rivals. Eco mode reduces the amount of overall horsepower and increases the car’s regenerative braking, while D will give you performance similar to that of a gasoline vehicle. Finally, you get B, which offers the maximum amounts of both horsepower and regenerative braking.
The i-MiEV will easily travel up to 100 miles on a single charge, but we imagine in U.S traffic that number will come down a bit. To charge it up, you get adapters for both 110- and 220-volt outlets. The former takes around 12-14 hours for a full charge, while the latter takes half that.
Well, there are two that will rival this machine, the Volt and the Leaf. The Leaf and the i-MiEV are going to be main rivals, as both offer 100 miles on a charge and the same cute looks. We prefer the look of the Leaf’s interior, but the exterior design is a toss up. We haven’t had the chance to drive the Mitsubishi yet, but we hear it’s a bit scary at first on the motorways.
The Volt is an entirely different animal and will easily beat both the Leaf and the i-MiEV in terms of power and driving range. So, as much as we have turned away from Chevrolet in the past, we would recommend the Volt in this case.
Mitsubishi is still targeting an on-sale date near the end of 2011 for the all-electric i-MiEV, with prices coming in below $30,000