Wednesday, February 18, 2015

The Frustrating Mitsubishi MiEV

[This post was prompted by seeing this article on Green Car Reports yesterday: 2016 Mitsubishi i-MiEV Electric Minicar To Start Deliveries Next Month]

[A disclaimer - if you are interested in electric cars because you want fast (Tesla) and elegant (Tesla) and upwardly mobile (Tesla), you might as well just move on. The MiEV is a basic car that would satisfy the needs of most drivers most of the time. If your drive keeps you in or near town and you want basic functions like a heater/air-conditioner/smartphone-friendly-stereo/cheap-to-buy/cheap-to-feed/cheap-to-maintain/enviro-friendly, this could be a great option for you and I invite you to keep reading.]

I spotted my first and last MiEV at the Mitsubishi dealer in Waco, Texas, about three years ago. And I wanted that thing, but it was still a very expensive vehicle at that point. I regret that I did not ask for a test drive. I had some wierd misconception that the opportunity would present itself again.

In December of 2013, Mitsubishi announced a massive price drop. The car dropped to $23k. Here where I live I could take advantage of the $7500 federal tax break and the $1500 state EV incentive, so a brand-new Mitsubishi electric car with a full factory warranty could be had for $14k. I became very excited! So I went to the Mitsubishi cars website. The MiEV had almost no place on their site. It was not even listed under the Models tab. You had to dig deeper into the site to see that they even had an electric offering in the states. I learned most of my MiEV info from and They would tell me about great lease deals and dealer incentives - for those who live in the Northeast or the West Coast. The nearest actual cars I could find were in the Dallas area - about 350 miles away. And I am a little leary of buying a car with a 70 mile range from a dealer five times that distance away.

[A Mesquite Hugger sidebar: I have purchased only one brand-new, factory-built, electric vehicle, and it left me a little cynical about buying such things. I purchased a 2011 Zero motorcycle. It was delivered to me with a defective battery pack. The motorcycle with an advertised 25 mile range really struggled to travel 10 miles per charge. It took a few trips to one of the nearest Zero service centers to truly determine the problem, and it took a lot of increasingly nasty phone calls and emails from me and from the dealer/service center to get Zero to do anything about fixing it. Also, the service center was 400 miles away. When I sold it, it had spent a lot more miles in the back of a pickup than it had being the efficient commuter I had bought it for. So, it proved to be a pretty miserable ownership experience. Had it performed anywhere near its advertised specs or had it been fixed promptly, I would have loved it. I really enjoyed the bike when it ran, but I learned never to buy an electric vehicle without a local service center.]

So, the Mistubishi MiEV might as well be a unicorn here in the middle of the country. I kept waiting to see when the car would be available here - you know, like the Nissan Leaf, the Chevy Volt, the Ford Energi series; there's even a BMW I3 in town now. But there are no MiEVs. Journalists (like John Voelcker in the article above) always make reference to how low the MiEV sales have been for Mitsubishi. For me there is a simple explanation - there are none to buy. Snagit, it's frustrating!

May green transportation be available, affordable, and non-frustrating!

For those of you still reading at this point - be sure to read the comments at the bottom of the John
Voelcker article - there are lots of detractors commenting, but the MiEV owners sing its praise - even when comparing it to Leafs and Teslas they have also owned. Even more frustration, snagit!

Two examples:

I have both a Model S and a 2014 imiev. I much more enjoy driving the imiev to the locations it will reach. Much easier to maneuver in tight places. Adequate performance. I'm 6'4" and the imiev has plenty of room and storage space. Were the imiev a 200 mile car, I probably wouldn't have the Tesla. Here in Texas, the Tesla is an $85k car with $7.5k in incentives. The imiev is a $26k car with $10k in incentives.
I have a 2012 iMiEV and Nissan Leaf and I enjoy driving the Mitsubishi more. It is my daily driver. The average range is 60 miles, about the same as our three year old Leaf. (I did drive it 84 miles in one shot up to Austin, TX to lend it to a friend last summer.) We never need that much range so it is not an issue. The range remaining meter on the Mitsubishi is about 100x better than the Nissan. Also, there is not a car out there that is easier to drive in a tight metropolitan area than the iMiEV. It is narrower so it will fit in any parking spot and it's turning circle is the smallest of any car I have ever seen. The rear seats fold flat to make a surprisingly nice sized cargo compartment. I even put a new 60" tv in the back a few weeks ago. Several people joked that the tv was bigger than the car. I really cannot say enough good things about this car though. It just does everything I need it to so well. If you have a Mitsubishi dealer local to you that still has a 2014 then you should take an hour off and go drive one. It is really a great car!