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Bye Bye: Mitsubishi i-MiEV Leaves US Market

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Mitsubishi i-MiEV driving

Say goodbye to the Mitsubishi i-MiEV—it’s leaving the United States market and it’s probably not coming back.

As we saw at the start of the month, few people are likely to feel aggrieved by this: only six i-MiEV cars have been sold so far in 2017 in the United States and zero were sold in July. And yet the i-MiEV represents an important part of automotive history.

It was the first mass-produced modern electric car on sale in the US, having beaten the Nissan LEAF to the punch when the latter arrived in December 2010—though Nissan now owns Mitsubishi and will likely prefer to focus on its much more popular offering.

Goodbye i-MiEV: Hello Eclipse Cross!

Even as Tesla struggled to get its Roadster into production in late 2009, the Mitsubishi i-MiEV was selling in Japan, and two years before pre-production, i-MiEVs were operating in test fleets. Part of its appeal overseas was its clever “i” design, perfect for Japan’s kei class of tiny cars—it’s also what made it unpopular in the United States, where bigger is always better.

It was and remains the only kei car adapted for the US in recent decades, but its respectable-for-the-time 62 miles of range—produced by a 16-kWh lithium-ion battery pack and electric motor—was simply not enough.

As Earle Hitchner’s saying goes, “The difference between America and England is that Americans think 100 years is a long time, while the English think 100 miles is a long way.” England can be substituted for Japan in this context, and if it’s to be less than a long time before we see an i-MiEV return to the United States, it will have to be able to go more than just a long way.

What’s Left? Check out the remainder of Mitsubishi’s vehicle lineup

Source: Washington Post

  • Benjamin Nead

    I’m one of the 2000+ here in the US who has one of these cars . . . a used 2012 that I bought for a fraction of what it cost new. The obituaries, like this one, will say American don’t want these sort of vehicles. But they might have, if they were actually aware of them. Early on, the i-MiEV got slandered by so may effete and presumptuous car review web sites, but I digress. The one who really failed to make this car a success was Mitsubishi themselves, who completely ignored it after they spent considerable money getting it prepared for the US market.

    If you’re a city dweller and, like me, rarely travel more than 20 miles daily and don’t need some ostentatious SUV or monster truck to stroke your ego, this car is ideal. Virtually nothing to go wrong mechanically and a very generous cargo hold when the rear seats are folded down. Forget the “golf cart” comments. The car actually has a 4 star NHSTA crash rating, like far more popular and well-known Nissan Leaf. So many were put off by the unconventional looks but, honestly, most overly-tall subcompacts have an ungainly appearance. Practical cars that are this small are rarely beauty contest winners. Why expect otherwise?

    I don’t miss visiting gas stations and can charge at home . . . typically overnight, on a standard 120V / 15A outlet and while I’m sleeping. Cost per mile to drive on electricity is about one third of what others pay for gasoline on a similarly-size subcompact. Despite what the petroleum industry propagandist will tell you, the environmental impact of a little electric like this one is about half the carbon footprint over the lifetime of the vehicle, even if your local electricity source isn’t as clean as it should be. But the grid is getting cleaner and, by association, electric cars actually get cleaner as the years go by. No other automotive power technology can legitimately make that claim.

    As the i-MiEV fades into the sunset and the original Leaf gets it’s first comprehensive upgrade, we’re beginning to see the first allotment off affordable and longer range EVs come to the marketplace, notably the Chevrolet Bolt and Tesla Model 3. This is where the future is head. The i-MiEv doesn’t represent failure but, rather, a beginning of things that we could only imagine just 6 years ago. I will continue driving my early adopter EV for as long as I can. Time for the other 98% of the country who isn’t driving electric to get wise and catch up.