Electric Cars with Lowest U.S. Prices

Electric Cars with Lowest U.S. Prices

Smart electric drive in car2go

Smart fortwo electric drive can be purchased from dealers in Spring 2013 for $25,000. After a federal tax credit of $7,500, the net cost is only $17,500. There are 300 of these 2-seat all-electric city cars in San Diego’s Car2Go car sharing and more in other cities such as Portland, Oregon. I was impressed with my test drive of the 2013 smart electric drive, now with a larger motor and new lithium battery pack.

 

2013 Nissan LEAFNissan LEAF is the sales leader of all-electric cars. This 5-door, 5-seat, hatchback has the right size and range for many who drive under 100 miles daily, or for households with more than one car. Nissan is now making the 2013 LEAF in Tennessee for the U.S. market with options that include Level 1 charge, Level 2 charge at 6.6 kW/hour, and 25-minute DC fast charge. The LEAF is the first electric car to earn five stars from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration.Nissan delivers great value with the new 2013 price starting at $28,800. LEAF Test drive.

 

Mitsubishi iMitsubishi i MiEV is an all-electric city car starting at $29,125, before federal tax credit. This fun-to-drive 4-seat 5-door micro-compact will still be able to get those precious city parking spaces that few U.S. cars can take. The more powerful U.S. version has an electric range of EPA adjusted 62 miles with a 16kWh lithium battery.

 

Pruis Plugin HybridToyota Prius Plug-in starts at $32,000. The Prius Plug-in cost about $7,000 less than the Chevrolet Volt, a plug-in hybrid with a 40-mile electric range in comparison to the Prius PHV’s 15-mile. After federal tax credits, the difference narrows to only $3,000. The Prius Plug-in costs about $8,500 more than the classic Prius Liftback, but the difference narrows to  $6,000 after Federal Tax Credit. Prius PHV Test Drive and Review

 

Chevrolet Spark EVChevrolet Spark EV is less than $32,500 and eligible for a $7,500 federal tax credit. This sleek 4-seat all-electric city car shares much of the drive system design of the best selling and award winning electric Chevrolet Volt. 2013 sales will only be in California, Oregon, and Korea.

 

Ford C-Max EnergiFord C-MAX Energi, an exciting new Crossover SUV can seat five. C-MAX Energi offers 550 miles of overall driving range using the Sanyo lithium-ion prismatic battery, electric motor, and gasoline engine – more than any other plug-in. Ford offers the passenger room and cargo space of the Prius v. Its 20 miles of electric range beats the Prius Plug-in, but falls short of the Chevrolet Volt. The C-MAX Energi starts at $33,745.  Ford C-MAX Energi

 

2013 Ford FusionFord Fusion Energi is a beautiful 5-seat sedan with more safety and telematics features than any other car on this list. Drive this plug-in hybrid for 20 miles of electric range, then a small efficient gasoline engine extends your range by hundreds of miles. The Fusion Energi goes on sale in early 2013 starting at $38,700, a big premium over the Fusion Hybrid’s $27,625.

 

Fiat 500eFiat 500e goes on sale in Spring 2013 and prices have not yet been announced. This 4-seat all-electric version of the popular Fiat 500 city car should have an electric range of 80 miles and be fun to drive.

 

Honda Fit EVHonda Fit EV looks just like the popular Honda Fit 5-door, 5-seat subcompact hatchback. The 2013 Fit EV officially has an MSRP of $36,625. Only in select pilot programs can it be leased f or $389 per month. The Fit EV Level 2 charges at double the speed of the Nissan LEAF and Mitsubishi i.  Honda Fit Electric

 

CODA is $37,500, but discounts of over $14,000,  for an all-electric car with a larger lithium battery than offered by Nissan and Ford. My test drive of the new CODA showed that this new electric car is similar in handling and performance to the Nissan Leaf and Ford Focus Electric which I have also driven. CODA has more electric range than the LEAF and Focus Electric which each have 24 kW lithium batteries in comparison to CODA’s 31 kW lithium iron phosphate battery. CODA Review

 

ford focus electricFord Focus Electric starts at $39,200 with double the charge speed of the LEAF. You can go online and configure your car, select a dealer and place your order. Although Nissan and Chevrolet have been getting most of the electric car media attention, both automakers are worried about Ford who will give customers the widest choice of electric and plug-in hybrid cars and vans. Ford has also partnered with SunPower to offer an affordable rooftop solar system that will allow Focus Electric owners and other electric car drivers to “Drive Green for Life,” and charge with solar. Ford Focus Electric

 

Chevy VOLTChevrolet Volt was awarded Car of the Year by Motor Trend and Automotive Magazine and awarded Green Car of the Year by Green Car Journal. General Motors is the current plug-in hybrid leader with the Chevrolet Volt, a plug-in hybrid with 40 miles of electric range and total range of 400 miles by engaging a small gasoline engine that is coupled with an electric generator. Our Volt Test Drive showed that this is plug-in hybrid is sportier to drive than regular hybrids and a great 4-door, 4-seat sedan for those who want to minimize fill-ups and avoid range anxiety. The Volt starts at $39,145 with nice tax credits or $350 monthly lease.

 

The above list of all-electric and plug-in hybrid cars expected to be selling and/or leasing in the United States in 2013 with the lowest cost. Our apologies to Honda Accord, Tesla, Fisker and others that did not make the price cut.

Future Electric Cars

Small electric city cars are becoming popular in car sharing, campuses, and cities with parking space challenges. The Smart Electric Drive is popular in car2go car sharing in San Diego and Portland. The new Scion iQ-EV was fun to drive, but Toyota is only putting 90 into U.S. car sharing and campus programs. The Mitsubishi i is in car sharing programs and city dwellers are buying this micro-compact. BMW has 70 Active E coupes in DriveNow’s San Francisco car shring program and is preparing for sales of the i3 hatchback.

Nissan, GM, Toyota, Honda, and Ford will all expand the number and variety of electric vehicle offerings. All major automakers are all testing electric cars for 2013 and beyond. Tesla and Fisker are working at more affordable electric cars that fit on this “lower cost” list, although Tesla is selling the Model S with 265 mile electric range for $79,900 as fast as it can make them.

By 2020, Europe with higher fuel prices and fewer oil subsidies is forecast to have more electric cars by 2020 than the United States. Better Place may deliver 100,000 of the Renault Fluence with its switchable battery to Israel, Denmark, and other countries. Volkswagen may teach everyone how to extend range by making vehicles light. The concept Up Light weighs just over 1,500 pounds, but it’s only a concept. We loved test-driving the Volkswagen Golf Blue E-Motion, but don’t plan on buying it in the U.S. before 2014.

For three years, we have read about China’s plans to bring electric cars to the U.S. Although China’s U.S. ambitions have slipped badly, its automakers cannot be ignored. China has over 100 million light electric vehicles, e-bikes and e-scooters in daily use. It’s new 5-year plan calls for 100 million electric charging stations in China by 2020. BYD, with gold-plated investors such as Warren Buffett, has only put a few hundred electric vehicles on the road in China and continues to delay introduction to the United States. Volvo, now owned by China’s Geely has the new C30 Drive E Electric, but the Volvo electric car will be selling only in Europe in the short-term. SAIC, Chery, and hundreds of players are also preparing EVs for China.

Japan and China will not be the only Asian electric car competitors. Hyundai and Kia are now selling impressive hybrids with lithium batteries. In the years ahead, Hyundai plans to offer electric cars and even a hydrogen fuel cell SUVs for under $40,000. India might bring us a Maharinda Reva or Tata EV that under prices everyone, but not by 2012, the basis for this report.

What is certain is that you have a growing selection of electric and plug-in hybrid cars expected to be sold with starting prices between $29,125 and $39,995 in the U.S.

Mitsubishi i Electric Car Can Be Reserved for $29,195

Mitsubishi i Electric Car Can Be Reserved for $29,195

Mitsubishi iMiEVBy John Addison (6/9/11)

Get Yours for $21,665 After Federal Tax Credit

The new Mitsubishi i (official name with small “i”), bigger and with more zip for the U.S. market, can now be reserved at a low price that will challenge the Nissan LEAF, Ford Focus Electric, and Honda Fit Electric. The world’s best selling freeway-speed electric car is coming to the U.S. this November.

My 15-mile test drive of the Mitsubishi i-MiEV showed me that this electric car has got what it takes. For example, the i-MiEV with its 46kW electric motor climbed 16% grade steep hill with the same ease as a Nissan LEAF. The U.S. Mitsubishi version will have 49 kW motor. By contrast, the Smart ED with its 16kW motor struggled up hills.

Using a conventional automatic shift, you can drive the Mitsubishi i in 3 modes: ECO for most driving with the best electric range, D for accelerating on freeways and climbing hills, and B to increase motor resistance for maximum regenerative brake power. This pure battery-electric has no gas tank. You can charge it at standard Level 2 J1772 public stations, adding 10 to 15 miles of range per hour of charge. Trickle charge from standard outlets is a slow 8 amp that may get upgraded to 12 A. Such charging will only add 2 to 3 miles per hour of charge. Life the LEAF, and unlike most plug-in cars, a DC Fast Charge option will add up to 70 miles of range in less than 30 minutes.

An optional Eaton Level 2 charger can be ordered for home installation. Mitsubishi will encourage these chargers to be ordered from Best Buy that will do a home inspection then schedule installation by a trained electrician. Since Level 2 charging is standard, you may want to get bids from other electricians for other chargers.

This June, I got to see and hear the latest from Mitsubishi at the EV Symposium presented by the Silicon Valley Leadership Group. Of the 200 people attending the symposium, 40 showed-up in electric vehicles that they owned. 20 of the electric cars were Nissan LEAFs. There were Chevrolet Volts, Tesla Roadsters, Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrids and a Mitsubishi i. Electric cars are here and their real – very real in the heart of Silicon Valley.

$6,000 Less than Nissan LEAF

Mitsubishi raised the price of their new electric car from $27,990 to $29,195 after Nissan raised the price of the 2012 LEAF by over $2,000. So far, electric car makers are not making money on these EV and they cannot supply fast enough to keep up with demand. The Mitsubishi i is able to start at  $6,000 below the 2012 Nissan LEAF. The Mitsubishi can price lower because it only uses a 16 kW lithium battery; the LEAF, 24 kW. The Mitsubishi range average is 85 miles; the LEAF, 100. Fleet managers will start getting U.S. delivery this November, individuals, in January 2012.

The 5-door hatchback feels like a roomy sub-compact inside. My 5 foot, 10 inch frame, fit easily in the driver’s seat and in the back seat of this 4-seater. The car is definitely designed for the urban environment. Parallel parking is a breeze, just nose in, turn off the car, and walk away. The back seat can fold down if you are loading up at big box stores, using this EV to make deliveries, or have extra work and school stuff.

The Mitsubishi i is a micro compact city-car with a tight turning radius. It can squeeze in neglected parking spaces, saving drives $20, $30, and even $50 per day. Compared to the Japanese i-MiEV, the U.S. version is 5-inches wider. It is 10-inches longer due to U.S. required bumpers.

The Model ES can be reserved for $29,195. The Model SE can be reserved for $31,125. The SE includes some upgraded interior appointments, a deluxe audio system with 360 watts and 8 speakers. With the SE you can pay $2,790 for an optional package that includes DC Fast Charging port, HDD navigation system with a back-up camera, and steering wheel audio controls. If you are ready to commit a $299 deposit, you can reserve your Mitsubishi i online.

The Mitsubishi i with navigation and DC fast charging, however, has little price advantage over the Nissan LEAF with navigation and DC fast charging. The LEAF offers more range, 5-seats, more cargo and a larger car that many will find more reassuring when driving freeways. Others will prefer the city parking space advantage of the Mitsubishi I, the urban styling, and the fun drive.

The Mitsubishi i is about 600 pounds lighter than the LEAF. Some expressway drivers will feel saver in the larger car, but the Mitsubishi electric car received a 4-star rating in stringent crash testing performed by Euro NCAP, a multinational vehicle safety-testing consortium in Europe.

Special Fleet Package for November Delivery

Fleet managers recognize that no vehicle meets all of their needs. Larger fleets may deploy different electric vehicles for different needs. For example, an employee pool could include Nissan LEAFs and Chevrolet Volts for those needing extended range. Delivery routes could need 3-ton Smith electric trucks for big items and Mitsubishi I with the back seat folded for quick deliveries in cities with parking space challenges.

The Mitsubishi i should do well in campus environments, short deliveries, and urban driving. Major rental car and car sharing fleets are evaluating the Mitsubishi i. Municipalities like the City of Santa Monica already have the Mitsubishi I on order. A special Fleet Model ES that includes DC Fast Charging will be available for $28,690. Fleet deliveries start in November. The Mitsubishi I will be on the GSA schedule.

An electric car will save most people over a $1,000 per year by avoiding gas station fill-ups. The Mitsubishi electric car is expected to be so reliable that you can prepay $500 for 5 years of maintenance, a big savings over a gasoline car. Yes, you could pay less upfront for fun urban cars like Smart, Fit, Yaris, Fiesta, and Cruze, but the Mitsubishi i will save year after year. You will be impressed with the Mitsubishi i.

Mitsubishi i Specifications

Get details at Mitsubishi. Some features only optional or only for Model SE.

Overview
Range 85 miles (targeted LA4 EPA city cycle)
Charge times Standard home 120V outlet: 22.5 hours
Optional home 240V EVSE charging dock: 6.0 hours
CHAdeMO Level 3 public quick-charging: 30 minutes to 80% charge
Top Speed 80 mph
Occupancy 4
Drive Rear-wheel
Mechanical
Motor Rear motor, 49 kW AC synchronous
Battery 16 kWh lithium-ion, 330V, 88 cells
Portable charging cable (Level 1) 120V
Optional home charging dock (Level 2) 240V requires purchase and installation of Eaton EVSE 240V home charging station)
DC quick- charge port (Level 3) ~50 KW (requires SE trim with Premium Package)
Brakes Front ventilated disc and rear drum brakes
Regenerative brake power system
4-wheel Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS)
Electronic Brake force Distribution (EBD)
Brake Assist (BA)
Brake override system
Suspension & Steering Independent strut front suspension with stabilizer bar
Rear 3-link de dion suspension
Speed-sensitive, Electric Power Steering (EPS)
Drivetrain Rear motor layout, rear wheel drive
Single fixed reduction gear transmission
Exterior
Colors Raspberry
Cool Silver
Labrador Black
Diamond White Pearl
Diamond White Pearl & Ocean Blue Two-Tone
Styling & Functionality Body color outer door handles
Body color power side view mirrors
Halogen projection headlamps
Side marker lamps
Charge door release
Rear window defroster
Rear intermittent wiper and washer
Roof antenna
LED rear combination tail lamps
Fog lamps with DRL function
Auto on/off headlamps
Wheels & Tires 15-inch steel wheels with cover
15-inch alloy wheels
145/65 R15 low rolling resistant front tires
175/60 R15 low rolling resistant rear tires
Tire repair kit (No spare tire)
Interior
Colors Basic Black
Premium Brown
Seating & Appointments 4-passenger seating capacity
6-way manual adjustable driver’s seat
4-way manual adjustable front-passenger’s seat
50/50 split fold-down and recline rear seats
Driver’s seat heater
3-spoke steering wheel
Leather wrap steering wheel and shift knob
Upgraded seat covering
Comfort & Convenience On-board recharging system with 120V portable charging cable
Electric manual air conditioning with micron filter
Electric compressor cabin heater
Remote keyless entry
Power door locks
Power windows with driver’s one-touch auto down feature
Variable intermittent windshield wipers
Rear window defroster
Front map lamps
Front and rear assist grips
Dual sun visors
Driver visor vanity mirror
Passenger vanity mirror
Auxiliary 12V DC power outlet
Cup holders (driver and front passenger)
Front door pockets
Floor mats
Silver interior accents
2-tone instrument panel (Premium Brown)
Door trim with cloth insert
Audio & Navigation 100 Watt, AM/FM/CD audio system with MP3/WMA playback with 4 speakers (front door and tweeters)
360 Watt, deluxe AM/FM/CD audio system with MP3/WMA playback and 8 speakers
HDD Navigation system with rearview camera monitor, FUSE Hands-free Link System™ with USB port, Steering wheel audio controls
Integrated audio panel
Safety Advanced airbag* system with dual-stage supplemental front air bags
Driver and front-passenger seat-mounted side-impact supplemental air bags
Roof-mounted curtain side-impact supplemental air bags
Active Stability Control (ASC) with Traction Control Logic (TCL)
3-point seat belts for all seating positions
Front seat belts with pretensioners and load limiters
LATCH System (Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children)
Front-seat height-adjustable headrests
Rear-seat height-adjustable headrests
RISE body construction with front and rear crumple zones
Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS)
High voltage cut-off system
Approaching vehicle audible system for pedestrians
Security Vehicle Immobilizer System
Vehicle Security System
Low battery warning indicator
MiEV Remote System (pre activated air conditioning & timer charging)
Packages
Packages Premium Package:

  • HDD Navigation system with rearview camera
  • FUSE Hands-free Link System™ with USB port
  • Steering wheel audio controls
  • Battery warming system
  • Heater outer mirrors
  • DC quick-charge port (a side-mounted charging port for use at public quick-charge stations)

Cold Zone Package:

  • Strongly recommended for cold climates that reach temperatures below zero degrees
  • Battery warning system
  • Heated outer mirrors
Warranty
Battery 8 years/100,000 miles
New Vehicle 3 years / 36,000 miles limited warranty
Dimensions
Overall length 144.8 in.
Overall width 62.4 in.
Overall height 63.6 in.
Wheelbase 100.4 in.
Track (F/R) 55.9 / 54.3 in.
Vehicle weight 2595 lbs.
Coefficient of drag 0.35
Front legroom 33.8 in.
Front shoulder room 54.8 in.
Front headroom 35.6 in.
Rear legroom 30.0 in.
Rear shoulder room 54.8 in.
Rear headroom 34.3 in.
Cargo Volume 13.0 cu. ft. (approximate)
Max cargo Volume 50.0 cu. ft. (approximate)
Passenger volume 85.0 cu. ft. (approximate)
Turning Radius 15.4 ft.

Technical specifications are based on the latest information available at the time of posting and are subject to change without notice. Features and options subject to change without notice.

Mitsubishi i Test Drive – Best Electric Car starting at $29,125

Mitsubishi i Test Drive – Best Electric Car starting at $29,125

Mitsubishi iMiEVBy John Addison (update 10/31/11; original 3/28/11)

 

Sales Start for New Mitsubishi Electric City Car

I have been driving this Mitsubishi i-MiEV all over Monterey, California, once described by John Steinbeck as “a quality of light, a tone, a habit, a nostalgia, a dream.” Surf pounds on rocky shores, light streams through eucalypts forest, and this city electric car performs.

Globally, Mitsubishi has sold over 5,000 electric city cars. I can see why as I drive the European version of the car that will be 5-inches wider and can now be reserved starting at $29,125. I glide in stealth mode in city stop-go traffic. I accelerate around a slow poke faster than in the Think EV. When I turn, the stability is solid.

I saw enough police cars that I did not risk testing the car at its speed limit of 80. The Mitsubishi I does not enter the freeway as fast as when I took the Chevy Volt on the same onramp, but acceleration is fine.

I escape traffic to enjoy driving through windy roads with sharp downhill turns. The Mitsubishi EV continues to handle well. Finally I test this city electric climbing a 16 percent grade. If you live in Orlando or Dallas, serious hill climbing may not be a factor, but if you live in San Francisco or Boulder it should be part of your test drive. This Mitsubishi with its 46kW electric motor climbed the steep hill with ease. The U.S. version will have 49 kW motor. By contrast, the version-1 Smart ED with its 16kW motor struggled up hills; version 3, available in late 2012, will have a motor that matches Mitsubishi’s.

Parking in tight spots is great for both the Mitsubishi i and the Smart ED. These micro compact city-cars have tight turning radii and can squeeze in neglected parking spaces, saving drives $20, $30, and even $50 per day. Parallel parking was a breeze. Just nose in, turn off the car, and walk away. The Mitsubishi i saves a fortune at the pump. I guarantee that you will never put a drop of gasoline in this pure battery-electric car.

Best Electric Car price

The Mitsubishi i can now be reserved started at $29,125. After federal and state tax incentives, a buyer could drive this city electric car away for under $20,000. The base ES model includes Level 2 charging; the SE model with the Premium Package also includes the CHADEMO DC Fast Charging port. Reservations have started in California, Oregon, Washington and Hawaii. You are likely to wait until 2013 in other states.

The official name for the U.S. version is the 2012 Mitsubishi i (small “i”), Powered by MiEV Technology. Because this 4-seat city car weighs only 2,595 pounds, 755 pounds less than the larger Nissan LEAF, the Mitsubishi i only needs a 16 kWh lithium battery pack; the LEAF needs 24kWh. This gives Mitsubishi a major cost advantage, starting at $6,000 less than the 2012 Nissan LEAF.

Many drivers will prefer to pay more for a Nissan LEAF, Chevrolet Volt, or other larger electric hatchbacks whose back seats can lower to give for more cargo space than the Mitsubishi i. Some expressway drivers will feel saver in the larger cars, but this Mitsubishi i received a 4-star rating in stringent crash testing performed by Euro NCAP, a multinational vehicle safety-testing consortium in Europe.

Electric Car Price Competition

For battery-electric car buyers who need to save thousands in parking fees and maneuver through challenging city traffic, I would recommend the Mitsubishi i over the Smart ED, the Think, and other city electric cars. For buyers who need more cargo space and prefer a larger car, I would recommend driving the Nissan LEAF and Ford Focus Electric. For those who want the extended range of a plug-in hybrid, test the Chevrolet Volt and other top electric cars.

Compacts like the LEAF are the most popular size for first time buyers who are watching their budget, yet want at least four doors, at least four seats, safety, a sporty feel, and electronic entertainment. The smaller Mitsubishi i is a micro-compact city car that squeezes in four people and some cargo. Yet my test drive of both shows that the Mitsubishi has the performance and handling of the LEAF. Both safely accelerate to freeway speeds. The LEAF has an EPA adjusted range of 73 miles electric range; the Mitsubishi i is at 62 miles. Both have Eco modes and invite 100 mile-plus range with careful driving at speeds below 50 mph.

In 2012, however, the big competition for the below $30,000 electric cars may come from the Honda Fit EV, the Ford Focus Electric, the Smart ED, and Toyota’s new Scion electric city car. 2012 will the year of the electric car battle for market share. If oil prices stay above $100 per barrel, then electric cars and plug-in hybrids may be adopted faster than the original Prius hybrid.

In the U.S., Mitsubishi is partnering with Eaton to offer charging units (EVSE). Eaton offers a 220v, J1772 charger, and a larger EV Quick Charger currently based on the TEPCO fast charger popular in Japan. These chargers will be available through Best Buys which has been testing the i-MiEV in Geek Squads. Eaton, a long time supplier of distribution equipment to electric utilities, is becoming a major force in many areas of smart grid and smart charging. You can also charge the Mitsubishi with a slow charge with 110 volt and 8 amps. This Level 1 charge may be an alternative for city dwellers that live in apartments or condos where Level 2 charging is not available.

2012 Mitsubishi i, Powered by MiEV Technology Specifications

  • USA Dimensions (L x W x H) = 144.8 inch x 62.4 inch x 63.6 inch
  • Cargo Volume 13.0 cu. ft.
  • Max cargo Volume    50.0 cu. ft.
  • Passenger volume     85.0 cu ft.
  • Turning Radius         15.4 ft.
  • Vehicle Weight = 2,595 lb
  • Maximum Speed = 80 mph
  • Electric Range 62 miles EPA
  • Charge Time
    • 6 to 7 hours with J1772 (220v / 15 amp)
    • 20 hours (110v / 8 amps)
    • 80% in 30 min (2012 = 18 min) with Fast Charger ( 200v / 50kW TEPCO)
  • Motor = 64 hp (49kW) Permanent Magnet Synchronous
  • Torque 133 lb-ft
  • 8,500 rpm
  • Lithium Batteries = 16 kWh with 88 cells made by Lithium Energy Japan, a joint venture company of GS Yuasa and Mitsubishi
  • Warranty
    • Lithium battery pack 8 years, 100,000 miles
    • Electric powertrain 5 years, 60,000 miles
    • Vehicle 3 years, 36,000 miles limited

Top 10 Electric Cars

Mitsubishi – the First Electric Car for $29,195

Mitsubishi – the First Electric Car for $29,195

2012 Mitsubishi iBy John Addison (updated 10/14/11; original 11/22/10)

Fall 2011 Sales Start for New Mitsubishi i Electric Car

At the LA Auto Show, I grinned at the new 2012 Mitsubishi i and the battery-electric car grinned back at me. In June I had fun test driving the Mitsubishi iMiEV, the best selling electric car in Japan. The iMiEV had the steering wheel on the right and every time I hit the “turn signal” the windshield wipers swooshed on that sunny day. Now the new Mitsubishi electric car has arrived for the U.S. market, with the steering wheel where we want it, a five inch bigger wheel base and ready for U.S. dealer sales in the fall of 2011. Mitsubishi is ahead of schedule.

The official name for the U.S. version is the 2012 Mitsubishi i (small “i”), Powered by MiEV Technology. Because this 4-seat city car weighs only 2,381 pounds, about 1,000 pounds less than the larger Nissan LEAF, the Mitsubishi i only needs a 16 kWh lithium battery pack; the LEAF needs 24kWh. This gives Mitsubishi a major cost advantage. This pure-electric city car can now be reserved starting at $29,195 (pretty close to my guess in the original article). Mitsubishi will challenge the Nissan Leaf, Ford Focus Electric, and Honda Fit Electric.

Compacts are the most popular size for first time buyers who are watching their budget, yet want at least four doors, at least four seats, safety, a sporty feel, and electronic entertainment. The Nissan LEAF fits this bill. The smaller Mitsubishi i is a micro-compact city car that squeezes in four people and some cargo. Yet my test drive of both shows that the Mitsubishi has the performance and handling of the LEAF. Both safely accelerate to freeway speeds. The LEAF targets a 100 mile electric range; the Mitsubishi i targets 85. Both have Eco modes and invite longer range with careful driving.

No doubt, the enthusiasm for the Nissan LEAF caused Mitsubishi to speed their new EV to U.S. markets. Over 50,000 Nissan LEAFs will be delivered before customers start receiving their Mitsubishi i. In 2012, however, the big competition for the below $30,000 electric cars may come from the Honda Fit EV, the Ford Focus Electric, the Smart ED, and Toyota’s new electric city car the Scion IQ EV.

Someone working with Honda stated that the new Fit EV will be priced well below $30,000. We will see. Low price speculation preceded the Insight and we were disappointed. Honda may decide to get aggressive with EV pricing. 2012 will the year of the electric car battle for market share. If oil prices soar above $100 per barrel, then electric cars and plug-in hybrids may be adopted faster than the original Prius hybrid.

Mitsubishi, in truth, will not be the first with an electric car below $30,000. There are 40,000 25-mph electric cars that have been on U.S. streets for years, some priced below $10,000. Mitsubishi is part of the race for the first four-seat freeway-speed electric car to be priced in the U.S. below $30,000.

As any European will tell you, these small cars have major advantages in cities, such as grabbing the parking space too big for others and saving $20 per day, or $30, or $50 in daily parking. My 5 foot, 10 inch frame, fit easily in the driver’s seat of the smaller MiEV and in the back seat of the 4-seater. Parallel parking was a breeze. Just nose in, turn off the car, and walk away.

In the U.S., Mitsubishi is partnering with Eaton who had two charging units on display with the Mitsubishi i. Eaton offers a 220v, J1772 charger, and a larger EV Quick Charger currently based on the TEPCO fast charger popular in Japan. These chargers will be available through Best Buys which has been testing the MiEV in Geek Squads. Eaton, a long time supplier of distribution equipment to electric utilities, is becoming a major force in many areas of smart grid and smart charging. (Disclosure: author currently owns stock in Eaton).

2012 Mitsubishi I, Powered by MiEV Technology

  • Dimensions (L x W x H) = 133 x 58 x 63 (2012 USA expected to be wider
  • Vehicle Weight = 2,381 lb
  • Maximum Speed = 80 mph
  • Electric Range 85 miles
  • Charge Time = 6 to 7 hours with J1772 (220v / 15 amp)
  • 14 hours (110v / 15 amps)
  • 80% in 30 min (2012 = 18 min) with Fast Charger (Level 3 200v / 50kW TEPCO)
  • Motor = 64 hp (47kW) Permanent Magnet Synchronous
  • Torque 133 lb-ft
  • 8,500 rpm
  • Lithium Batteries = 16 kWh with 88 cells made by Lithium Energy Japan, a joint venture company of GS Yuasa Corporation, Mitsubishi Corporation and Mitsubishi Motors Corporation.