Currently, the only commercially available plug-in on the European market is the Mitsubishi i-Miev. You can also have it as Peugeot iOn, or as Citroen C-Zero. Not much is known about their sales success. Launched in Japan in 2009, the i-Miev last month celebrated its 5000th car rolling off the Japanese production lines. Which earned the i-Miev the title “best selling pure EV” – the numbers are that big. The numbers will soon get much bigger – if all goes according to plan.
By the end of 2011, or in the beginning of 2012, the multiple personae i-Miev will be joined by the Nissan Leaf. In Europe, the car already has been crowned “Car of the Year 2011“ – in absentia. Leaf and i-Miev share the usual shortcomings of a plug-in:The limited range and the high price. In Europe, the i-Miev costs around €35,000 ($46,000 – please no discussion about VAT and purchasing power.) The Leaf is expected to come in at a similar price.
In Germany, there is a car that wants to give the Japanese plug-ins a run for their Euros: Her name is Mia. And when Mia comes to market this coming year, she will be available at the bargain basement price of €19,500 ($25,700). Which is especially good news for German plug-in fanciers, as the stingy German government is resolutely against government subsidies.
Mia is a product of the Germany company Conenergy. In a way. Conenergy bought parts of the French Heuliez coachbuilders after the company went bankrupt. Amongst the assets was an electric car named “Friendly.” Conenergy hired a former Volkswagen designer, Murat Günak. According to Die Welt, Günak smoothed the “plain shoebox design” a bit.
Now the car looks, says the paper, “like a VW Bus that shrunk in the laundry.” And she’s called Mia now.
The low price comes at, well, a price: Mia has only 25 hp, a Prozac-worthy range of 100km (62 miles) and an exhilarating top speed of 110 km/h (68mph). Die Welt testdrove a prototype – in a parking garage. The prototype, the one and only Mia available at the moment, was “too precious” for the open road. Die Welt’s criticism of the Mia was, by force of the limiting circumstances of the testing environment, restricted to “the compressor of the brake booster drones on like an old refrigerator.”
Die Welt refrains from panning or praising the EV. Instead, the paper quotes Roman Dudenhausen, head of Conenergy: “One must see and drive the car to understand it.”