iMiev UK microsite launches. i is an object of desire.

I’m positively drooling.

Covering electric vehicles it’s very hard to remain completely unbiased when a car comes along which screams “buy me”. Different people have that emotional response to different cars; but I’ve falled in love with a Japanese car cute enough to give a pickatchu a run for it’s money. I’ll admit now that bubble-shaped cars with large, almost pleading headlights aren’t everyone’s cup of tea. For me though, I’ve loved the Mitsubishi i ever since I first laid eyes on it a few years ago. I was smitten.

With only a few thousand of the original gas-guzzling critters making it to the UK I was one of the lucky folks given a test drive. The tiny 660cc engine screamed away from beneath the boot through the rear-wheel, automatic drivetrain – but I found the easy drive and distinctive good looks hard to resist. Sure, it felt a little underpowered and a little top-heavy on cornering – but I’d heard what was coming down the line. A proper, bone-fide electric version. In fact, that’s why I’d test driven the i; I knew the electric one was being produced.

You see, whilst GM procrastinated about if and when it would ever bring another EV to the market Mitsubishi had been bevering away for many years developing green drivetrains. (It’s a shame that the other vehicles in the Mitsubishi stable aren’t all so great on fuel economy and green credentials, but still). Apparently, Mitsubishi have been developing electric vehicles and electric drivetrains for some years now. But the iMiev is the first publicly availble, mass produced EV from them (There were concept electrics of both the Colt and the Lancer, but none made it to production).

The iMiev is certainly cute. Can it perform too?Mitsubishi aims to only release a small number of these little kei class cars this year. The original petrol-engined i was only invisaged to sell 300 a year in the UK back in 2007 when it launched as an imported model – Mitsubishi only aims to bring a tiny amount of iMievs to the market this year (just 50!)

The iMiev has been thoroughly tested in Japan for several years prior to it hitting the market. Mitsubishi have sought to prove that the market is well and truly ready for the car and that the car is well and truly ready for the market.

Not content to show fast road switch scenes, beautiful country lanes or bustling cityscapes (the latter being the usual EV advertisment backdrop) the team at Mitsubishi have released a video detailing the rigorous testing the iMiev has had to endure in order to make it to market. That includes fording the iMiev in a stream right up to it’s wheel arches. Impressive.

This test drive filmed a few years ago shows that the iMiev is more than happy to do sustained hill-driving. Something many EVs would baulk at.

 

It’s the first time I’ve seen a major auto manufactuer (at least, for ten years or so) take this much interest in electric cars, yet alone advertise it so thoroughly.

Check out the UK launch site of the iMiev. It’s a great site and gives a real sense of something good coming down the road. It’s a shame that there’s only 50 coming to the UK this year. And at an estimated £25k price price tag – well above the Prius T Sprit (the top of the line model for the UK) it’s going to have to impress a lot before people buy one. Four seats, 81 mph top speed and a range of about 100 miles a charge. And it’s cute and I think it looks great. With a five year waranty it’s certainly going to make more sense than some of the more expensive quadricycles out there. Sure the G-Wiz Lithium Ion is a fair bit cheaper, but it only does 50 mph, has a range of only 75 miles and isn’t able to comfortably seat four adults.

Regardless of the price though I still want one. It’s on my list of cars. Let’s hope the test drive I’ve got planned is as good as it is in my dreams. I guess I’ll have to wait to find out.

 

 

 

 

 

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  1. Good question. But, to start with, rcogenize that twhatever we do,it will be agradual transition. Electric cars will be on the market before the end of the decade but only a few thousand a year at first and then build up volume over time. So there’s time to build new power generating plants.But there are other options than just large (traditional technology) power plants. To take one example, solar power (I’ll use this because its the one I know best but here are others: wind, tidal, geothermal,etc).In California, more power is already needed and soon. But solar power can supply (estimates) up to 30% of the demand and even more of the peakdemand (that occurs when its hot and sunny when solar is at its most efficient). That’s a BIG chunk of the power requirements. And it has the advantage that it can be buildt quickly installing solar panels takes days, not years and as market demand builds (its already rising rapidly) the scale of new power generation rises with it. Point is, we get the power starting more or less immediately.The real key is going to be developing an infrastructure that “caters” to electric cars the way our oil/gas/service station industry caters to gasoline powered cars now. And that will take time but again, it will be years before we have enough electric cars to matter, so in a sense its a “self-correcting” problem. Someof this infrastructure is already under development. Here’s one model of how some of that infrastructure might work in practice (and, for the sake of arguement, assume its all solar power, weather permitting):You’ve left your car plugged in to recharge sunday afternoon after the family got pack from church. So, Monday morning, its at full charge. But bad news the traffic is a mess, so by the time you get to work, you’re down to half charge. No problem. The owner of the parking deck (enterprising soul) has installed sollar arrays on the roof and plug-ins (with meters to tote up the fees) for customers. You park plug in your car and its recharged long before you get off work. And the rest of the week works pretty much the same. It’s not a 100% solar system but 80% of your power at home and from your car comes from solar panels and while paying for those home solar panels was a push a few years before, they’ve long since returned the investment in lower energy costs. Between that ant the savings on transportation (even the electricity you buy from the parking concession is cheaper than gas used to be) you pay half for energy you did in 2007.Granted, this may take 20 years but that or something similar is the way things are headed. Almost makes you feel sorry for the oil companies. Almost!

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