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).
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.