25-iMievs now at large in the UK public hands.

This post could be about the driving experience of the iMiev, or the fact that the iMiev launch today is the first mainstream production electric car to be released ever in the UK. (Okay, so back in the late 1990s we had the PSA electric vans and cars, but even they weren’t for public use – at least – not initially.) No, this post is about the future, and the hope that gives me. 

Today, I was among one of the lucky people to be present in Birmingham’s Centenary square to witness the launch of the Mitsubishi iMiev in the UK. Okay, so Mitsubishi had a few cars on the road before then – but they were strictly test/publicity vehicles. Today, twenty-five lucky people drove home in one. 

Sadly for me, I don’t live close enough to the CABLED test area so I wasn’t eligible to take part. But believe me, I certainly wanted to take part! (Hopefully I can find an iMiev of my own very soon)

While at the launch I was able to get some really nice photos of the event, including some fast-continuous ones. I even got to have a quick spin around the block in Mike Boxwell’s iMiev. (Yes he got one!)

 

http://www.flickr.com/apps/slideshow/show.swf?v=71649

 

Thanks so much to Mitsubishi UK and CABLED for making such a great event. It was pitched just right. It wasn’t full of pomp and ceremony. It wasn’t high-brow. It was a bunch of folks, congregating together with just the right amount of purpose to illustrate that the twenty-five electric cars leaving that day were in fact the start of something big, something incredible.  There was free coffee and pastries and circus performers and face-painters kept the children happy. 

And there was a huge cross-section of community there from the well-known to the unknown. Celebrity car journalist Quentin Willson rubbed shoulders with young, enthusiastic families ready to take their new ride home for the first time.  Retired couples and grown up families congregated around some cars, whilst teenagers drooled over others. There really was a real slice of society represented. 

And that’s something cool, because before now electric vehicles were viewed as being a complete niche vehicle; something which either the very rich or the very desperate drove. Today I didn’t get that impression. Today, there were normal people, driving what looked like a very normal car. Were it not for the writing on each and every car proclaiming the car’s green credentials it’d not even get a second look. 

So now we have the iMiev to sit squarely between the GWiz’s laughable dimensions, speed and notorious spec and the drool-worthy pant-wetting specs of the Tesla. Okay, so the iMiev isn’t cheap yet (participants are forking out £350+ a month for the privaledge to take part in this first round of iMiev roll-outs), but it is expected to come down in price within a few years. Enough, in fact, that it’ll be within most folk’s price range. 

While you may not be a fan of the iMiev styling (I am) you can rest assured that this won’t be the last EV from Mitsubishi, nor will it be the last EV to hit the UK streets. In fact, many more cars are set to hit Birmingham and Coventry streets in coming weeks as the CABLED scheme rolls out more marques. This is the turning point we’ve all be waiting for. This is the turning point that makes my job a joy and a whole-lot easier. This is a day I will remember for many years to come. 

If you see one of these cute vehicles give them a wave. And if you are overtaken by one don’t feel ashamed; the performance of these puppies is certainly a remedy for many a milk-float blues. The iMiev is just getting it’s own back. 

If you’d like to hear the EVcast which followed the event, in which I was lucky enough to be joined by Mitsubishi UK MD Lance Bradley as well as Neil Butcher from the Arup Vehicle Design Group, Mike Boxwell and Robert Llewellyn (all new iMiev owners) please head over to the EVcast homepage

 

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