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Mitsubishi i-MiEV: Entry Level for Electric Cars

As more electric vehicles enter the market, sticker shock has begun to eclipse consumers’ long-standing worries about short range and batteries that can catch fire.

Ford’s electric Focus compact car has a base price just below $40,000 and Chevrolet’s plug-in hybrid Volt costs $41,000. Toyota recently rolled out an electric version of its RAV4 small SUV that will cost about $50,000. Since a low price is a major selling point for a new car, it seems doubtful the current generation of electrics will ever form a retail foothold in the U.S.

Now Mitsubishi is setting a new price floor with the i-MiEV, the latest version of a tiny vehicle that has been available in other markets but is making its U.S. debut. But is its $31,125 base price low enough to attract buyers?

I have been test-driving the new Mitsubishi this weekend and have found it ideal for the usual errands. Its typical driving range of between 60 and 70 miles would make it a good choice for commuting from the New Jersey suburbs to Manhattan. It fits into the smallest parking spaces and has a smaller footprint than nearly every car on the road short of a Smart Fortwo. I also reviewed an earlier model last year.


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