The Mitsubishi i-MiEV (Mitsubishi Innovative Electric Vehicle) is the first mass-produced electric car in Australia.
If you’re expecting any kind of grunt, prepare to be disappointed. The i-MIEV is designed for city driving and short distance trips. It claims a maximum range of 150km, but we would experience range anxiety at about 90km.
It takes about seven hours for a full charge to the battery and Mitsubishi recommends a 15 Amp connection for recharging – the same kind of plug you’ll find powering your stove, and one you’ll need to spend extra money to get an electrician to install in your garage.
Charging requirements rule out street parking, and given many inner-city dwellers don’t have access to a garage or carport, we look forward to charging stations springing up in the next few years around convenient locations in the future (an Australian standard is currently being developed that focuses on the infrastructure of electric cars).
The i-MIEV goes from 0km/h to 100km/h in a slow 14.3 seconds, but once it’s doing 30 km/h it responds well. It decelerates quickly at low speeds, its brakes feel powerful enough to stop the car safely and while steering is light, it’s fairly direct. The ride is bouncy as it’s a short wheel-based car with the batteries mounted below the rear seat.
With the motor just in front of the rear axle there is a lot of weight in the back. Also, when driving behind a large truck, the car tends to move side to side due to the turbulence created by the truck – also a result of the light front end.
The driver’s seat is firm and unsupportive, but that’s no big problem as the car can’t be used over long distances. The air-conditioning makes travelling on a hot summer day comfortable and Mitsubishi claims it turns off when the range shortens.
There’s no engine noise but there is a fair bit of tyre noise entering the car at higher speeds. The interior plastics are hard and basic. For the taller driver, it’s a reasonable fit in the tall cabin.
For more information on Green cars
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. At the time of writing, the Mitsubishi i-MiEV also held the top spot at ACEEE
's green cars listing as well as the Australian Green Vehicle Guide
Savings & running costs
Savings are disappointing. We found that with the running cost savings (based on using electricity at current pricing) it would take 43 years to bring the costs down to that of purchasing a similarly sized petrol vehicle using about 7L/100km.
For a full charge 7 hours*2.4kW = 16.8kWh *$0.22/kWh = $3.70 for a range of 150km (best case scenario), or about $2.50/100km.
A comparable small petrol car uses around 7 L/100km in city driving, *$1.35/L = about $9.50.MIEV saves best case $7/100km, or $700 over a yearly 10000km.
For example, if you pay $18000 for your small car, then the MIEV is $30k more expensive. $30k price/$700savings per year = 43 years to make up the difference in price (not counting finance, opportunity costs, etc).
*These are current electricity and petrol prices, which are notoriously apt to change.
The i-MIEV meets its claims, but given its current pricing, lack of savings and issues with charging, it’s difficult for us to recommend it.