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Mitsubishi Jumps into Electric Car Market with 2012 i-MiEV

By Arv Voss, October 22nd, 2011

Mitsubishi has positioned the i-MiEV as an "ultimate eco-car." It's an expression of the company's environmental efforts toward a sustainable coexistence with the planet and natural resources.

Manufacturer photo: The all-new 2012 Mitsubishi iMiEV is a new Zero Emission Vehicle for the eco-conscious automotive consumer searching for a vehicle to supplement their use of ride sharing and/or public transportation -- and as an ideal vehicle for those wanting to make a meaningful personal contribution to sustainable transportation
Manufacturer photo: The all-new 2012 Mitsubishi iMiEV is a new Zero Emission Vehicle for the eco-conscious automotive consumer searching for a vehicle to supplement their use of ride sharing and/or public transportation -- and as an ideal vehicle for those wanting to make a meaningful personal contribution to sustainable transportation

The i-MiEV (intelligent Mitsubishi Electric Vehicle) is driven 100-percent by electrical power and is a Zero Emissions Vehicle. Power for the i-MiEV comes from a high-efficiency, compact and lightweight permanent magnet AC synchronous electric motor that incorporates a rare-earth neodymium magnet and optimized wound rotor design.

The motor turns at a maximum speed of 9,900 rpm and develops 49 kW (3000 - 6000 rpm) of power. As a basic characteristic of the electric motor it generates very high torque from very low speeds: 145 lb.-ft. at 0 to 300 rpm. The transmission is a specially designed single-speed reduction gear type with no reverse, as the motor serves to deliver the reverse function.

The i-MiEV is a hatchback subcompact that employs futuristic design cues in the form of a cute jellybean look. It seats four people comfortably with room for personal items behind the rear seat. Excellent outward visibility is provided with a large greenhouse and glass area. Overhangs are short both fore and aft.

The interior features all the normal amenities found in a subcompact vehicle. Upholstery is woven cloth with well-formed and padded seats. Gauges and switchgear are well placed for optimum user friendliness, with special gauges and instrumentation providing specific information relative to charge levels, energy storage and current energy level available, as well as approximate range, which is of course subject to driving style and topography.

Manufacturer photo: The all-new 2012 Mitsubishi iMiEV is a new Zero Emission Vehicle for the eco-conscious automotive consumer searching for a vehicle to supplement their use of ride sharing and/or public transportation -- and as an ideal vehicle for those wanting to make a meaningful personal contribution to sustainable transportation

My test 2012 Mitsubishi i-MiEV SE sported a pearlescent White and metallic Blue exterior. Net Value Pricing is $21,625 for the i-MiEV ES model, and $23,625 for the SE version after applying the available $7,500 Federal Tax Credit.

The i-MiEV is actually fun to drive. After entering and turning it on, the only indication that you're ready to roll is a chime signal and ready light in instrument panel. The car is whisper quiet when stationary, and only emits a barely discernable whir when moving. Tire noise on the road surface is actually more noticeable.

The shift gate provides the following settings: Park, Reverse, Drive, Eco and B, which allows for the same torque and energy as the Drive setting, but at the same time maximizes regenerative braking and energy storage during deceleration or heavy braking. The Eco setting minimizes power output from that of the Drive setting and conserves energy.

The range on a full charge can be up to 100 miles, dependent upon driving factors and conditions, and the use of on-board electronic features. Maximum speed is about 80 mph, which at that rate will of course diminish stored energy quite rapidly. Charging time varies through the on-board 15-amp charger: to achieve a full charge at 100V the time is roughly 14 hours; 7 hours are required at 200V; and with the special Quick charger (880V), an 80 percent recharge may be accomplished in approximately 30 minutes.

So, is a plug-in, all-electric ZEV for you? It actually depends upon the individual and the intended use and requirements. Some people will obviously get a charge out of the i-MiEV (no pun intended), while for others who need more drive range, it won't fill the bill for everyday transport. But the iMiEV is certainly ideal for commuters who travel roughly 30 miles or less each way daily, or for longer commutes up to 60 or 70 miles, with access to charging facilities in between.

Manufacturer photo: The all-new 2012 Mitsubishi iMiEV is a new Zero Emission Vehicle for the eco-conscious automotive consumer searching for a vehicle to supplement their use of ride sharing and/or public transportation -- and as an ideal vehicle for those wanting to make a meaningful personal contribution to sustainable transportation

The new 2012 i-MiEV arrives in Mitsubishi showrooms in November and is positioned to serve as a major role player in the quest for sustainable energy. Tax credits are sure to make its purchase more attractive.

Specifications

Base price $23,625
Epa mileage rating 27 city/34 highway (kW-hrs/100 miles)
Fuel capacity N/A
Horsepower (net) 66 at 3000-6000 rpm
Motor type 25 kW permanent magnet AC synchronous electric motor / 330-V lithium-ion battery
Overall length 144.7 in.
Torque (lb.-ft.) 145 at 0-300 rpm
Transmission single-speed reduction gear
Vehicle type 4-passenger RWD Zero Emission Vehicle
Wheelbase 100.4 in.
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