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USA: 2012 Mitsubishi i-MiEV First Impressions

PORTLAND, Oregon – I can’t believe the day has come. So many questions and speculations around electric cars are floating around. But the reality is that they are here and they are not going away.

It is 2011 and I have driven my second fully electric vehicle. Last month, I was invited to the Nissan LEAF launch in Montreal and today, I got to take the Mitsubishi i-MiEV for a drive.

The i-MiEV looks and feels just like a normal car. (Photo: Lacey Elliott/Auto123.com)

First thing: this electric car is just like a ‘real’ car. I don’t know what I was expecting, something more futuristic or spaceship-like, maybe? Mitsubishi has put a lot of effort into making sure that consumers feel right at home in this EV. I open the door, put the key in the ignition and turn the key… nothing happens. Ok, a lot actually happens underneath, but there is no sound. The running motor is so quiet that adjusting the electric side mirrors is noisier.

The i-MiEV looks and feels just like a normal car. What else would you refer to it as? Unlike the Prius or the LEAF, the gear shifter on the i-MiEV is just what consumers are accustomed to. It’s not just me. The journalist that I am driving with today keeps saying the same thing: “I keep forgetting that this is an electric car!” I could spend all day behind the wheel and forget about it completely.

The Mitsubishi ‘i’ is a small fuel-powered car in Japan. The i-MiEV got its engine and gas tank removed, replaced by an electric motor, an inverter and lithium–ion batteries. The battery pack feeds the 63-horsepower electric motor through a single-gear transmission.

Mitsubishi says that this EV will travel approximately 155 km per full charge. Charging times with a 120V charging cable will take about 22 hours, while a 240V charger can do it in 7 hours. If you can find a DC quick-charge station, you can get an 80% charge in 30 minutes.

We pull into ‘Electric Avenue’ located at Portland State University, which is a research project that allows EVs to charge up. You pay for parking but the charge is free. After a bite to eat and a 30-minute charge, we are at just over 80% and we can head off again.
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