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Mitsubishi i scales down size, price of electrics

Mitsubishi has captured few headlines for its first electric car, standing in the shadow of the sporty Teslas and poster-child Nissan Leaf.

Mitsubishi i-MIEV sales began in November 2011 and, as I write this, only 549 have been sold. Key selling points are price, availability and, of course, fuel savings.

The i starts at $21,625, including the $7,500 tax credit but not the $850 destination fee. The comparable price on the Leaf is $27,700. The Ford Focus goes for $31,700 and is expected to complete its nationwide rollout by the end of the year.

Both are significantly larger than the snub-nosed i and claim a longer driving range than Mitsubishi’s 62 miles. Despite criticism and angst over range, these cars might make sense for people whose daily driving is limited and who have a second vehicle.

Others looking to minimize gas purchases should consider the growing line of hybrids, such as Toyota’s new Prius city car or maybe a Volkswagen diesel.

Click here to see other new car reviews.

Driving 100 miles in the i costs $3.60 — about half as much as the $19,000 Prius c. That’s based on 12 cents per kilowatt-hour, though prices vary widely.

The i doesn’t handle particularly well and is a little slow off the line with a top speed of 80 mph, but it is fun on short hops with its tiny stance and unique look.

Since long trips are out, I didn’t mind the hard, slablike seats. The tall stance makes for lots of headroom. Elbow and shoulder room are OK, but the i could use more legroom, especially in back where seating is limited to two.

There is more cargo space than you might expect, and the rear seats fold flat if you remove the headrests.


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