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Reevaluating the Mitsubishi i-MiEV in context, at home

I’ve driven a fair number of electrics over the last couple decades, beginning with General Motors’ bullet-shaped 1991 Impact concept car and continuing through a progression of Geo Storm-based mules, prototype and production EV1s with both lead-acid and later range-doubling Ni-MH battery packs. And since returning to this side of the business, my list has expanded to include the Chevrolet Volt, Nissan Leaf, MINI E, BMW ActiveE, Tesla Roadster, Smart ED and a right-drive, Japanese-market Mitsubishi i-MiEV.

All have shared the EV blessings of strong, near-silent, shiftless acceleration, home “refueling” and no more gas station stops with fluctuating fuel prices. All have also shared the EV curses of big, heavy, expensive batteries, the resulting high purchase/lease prices and (excluding the Volt) limited range, long recharge times and occasional range anxiety.

Most recent EV encounters have been brief – a few miles around town or a parking lot. But last year I was fortunate to enjoy a working week with a Volt and a couple days with a Leaf (see past columns). And I was recently offered a three-day loan of a U.S.-spec Mitsubishi i.
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