What was the aboriginal banal electric vehicle, afterwards the GM EV1?
No, it’s not the Nissan Leaf.
The Mitsubishi i-MiEV was, by abounding assessments, a avant-garde as a committed electric vehicle. It was advised to be mass-produced, not a simple conversion, and broadly accessible (at atomic in some markets). Although aboriginal put in analysis fleets in 2007, it was offered for accessible acquirement in Japan starting in 2009—more than a year afore aboriginal Nissan Leaf deliveries.
The abnormally styled electric minicar hasn’t been awash in the U.S. aback the 2017 archetypal year, aback sales had about coasted to a arrest on their own, from an underwhelming U.S. sales aiguille of aloof over 1,000 awash in 2013. And according to a address aftermost ages from the Japanese newswire Nikkei, Mitsubishi could stop authoritative its little i-MiEV electric car by the end of this Japanese budgetary year—by March 2021.
Although the move hasn’t been about confirmed, Nikkei quotes an bearding controlling as saying: “We didn’t accept abundant money and cadre to abide advance in EV development.”
The i-MiEV wasn’t originally advised to be the angular chip all-around accomplishment that the Leaf was. The Nissan Leaf exhausted the i-MiEV to the bazaar in the U.S. by added than a year.
2011 Mitsubishi i-Miev EuroNCAP Test
To advertise the i-MiEV in the U.S., Mitsubishi about re-engineered a Japanese kei-car-based vehicle, addition its track, authoritative the absolute agent about 8 inches wider, and abacus added side-impact aegis and ancillary airbags.
That said, it never absolutely fit in Stateside. With a 66-hp permanent-magnet motor in back, the i-MiEV was one of the slowest-accelerating electric cars on the U.S. bazaar for abundant of the time it was available. But with rear-wheel-drive, staggered annoy sizes, and a adequately bendable abeyance with quick, active steering, the i-MiEV was consistently decidedly acceptable fun to drive about town.
And active about boondocks was absolutely all we’d advise. In U.S.-spec, the i-MiEV came with a 16-kwh array backpack that yielded an EPA ambit appraisement of aloof 62 miles. Use the altitude ascendancy or go abundant aloft 50 mph for long, and it’s no exaggeration to say that the ambit you should calculation on was about bisected that.
With its tall, boxlike body, low-mounted array pack, and easy-folding rear seatbacks, the i-MiEV had some accomplished autogenous packaging, too. Aback GCR aftermost revisited the i-MiEV for a aftereffect drive, in 2015, we gave it a shopping-trip advantage over the e-Golf because of its height.
2016 Mitsubishi i-MiEV Quick Drive
By the time of the i-MiEV’s introduction, Mitsubishi had already awash tens of bags of i-MiEVs in Japan and Europe, and in the U.S. it planned to chase the i-MiEV a year afterwards with the Outlander PHEV and addition EV anon afterwards that—an electrified reboot, essentially. But things didn’t absolutely go according to plan.
To that point, the dealership Mitsubishi abiding as a abode forth the way on its aboriginal U.S. drive befalling for the i-MiEV in 2011—said to be an archetype of the administration Mitsubishi capital to go with added technology-centric displays and EV-savvy salespeople—was out of business aural a brace years. The Outlander PHEV assuredly accustomed in the U.S. in 2018. And that additional EV appears to accept been agilely cut forth the way.
Pair of Mitsubishi i-MiEV electric cars anchored at assignment [photo: Jen Danzinger]
Going aback decades, Mitsubishi was one of the quirkiest, best tech-savvy, and best avant-garde of the Japanese automakers. Less than 10 years ago the i-MiEV acquainted like a able addendum of that. But in retrospect, it was the end of an era.