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Behind the wheel of a Mitsubishi electric car

Last year, the City of Vancouver agreed to purchase 13 Mitsubishi i-MiEV vehicles for its municipal fleet. Makes sense—if you’re going to talk about being the greenest city in the world, you’ve got to walk the walk.

I recently spent some time with an i-MiEV, and this is what I learned.

You can purchase one at any Canadian Mitsubishi dealership now. The starting price is just a shade under $33,000 with various rebates in effect—B.C. has a $5,000 rebate. Power is supplied by a liquid-cooled all-synchronous electric motor that develops some 66 horsepower and, more importantly, 145 foot-pounds of torque. This last figure is higher than that of some comparable internal-combustion models. The battery pack is lithium-ion. Transmission is a single-speed, and you can choose between three settings: regular D, an Eco mode, and maximum regenerative braking B mode.

In perfect driving conditions, with a light throttle foot, Mitsubishi is claiming a range of up to 155 kilometres on a single charge. This is unrealistic; if you use any of the accessories—heater, air conditioner, seat warmer, et cetera—you pretty much cut your driving range in half. You can actually see the power-supply gauge drop a bar or two when you activate the a/c. I spent my time driving around with absolutely no accessories turned on—not even the radio.

You can fully recharge the i-MiEV using a 120-volt household wall socket in about 22 hours. There are also two quick-charge features, one utilizing 240 volts, the other Mitsubishi’s own Quick Charge connector port, which will give 80 percent of full battery power in about 30 minutes. Here’s a neat feature: using the key fob, you can remotely program the charging process. According to Mitsubishi, the battery pack will go for at least five years before it starts to degrade, and it might even be possible to get 10 years out of it.

Inside, the i-MiEV is surprisingly roomy, offering 2,772 litres of total interior room and some 1,430 litres of cargo room with the second-row seats folded flat. Seating capacity is for four adults, and there’s plenty of head and leg room—no compromises here.

There are lots of amenities, too. Standard equipment includes a driver’s side seat warmer, air conditioning, power windows, keyless entry, and 50/50 folding rear seat. In every way, the i-MiEV is a comfortable, nicely equipped subcompact, and the comfort level is on par with that of any of its rivals.


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