The Truth About Cars » i-Miev The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Mon, 28 Jul 2014 10:00:52 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » i-Miev Nissan: 633 CHAdeMO Fast Chargers Available For Use Today, More Coming Thu, 03 Jul 2014 12:00:57 +0000 nissan-leaf-using-chademo-fast-charger_100457004_l

Just in time for the Fourth of July travel weekend, Nissan Leaf and Mitsubishi i-MIEV owners will have access to 633 CHAdeMO fast chargers, up from 160 stations in January 2013.

Green Car Reports says back then, the majority of those chargers were along the West Coast and Texas, with Nissan promising to triple that number within 18 months. Nissan North America senior manager of corporate communications Brian Brockman announced last week that his employer had gone above and beyond by bringing online nearly 500 units in the time period, with all listed on PlugShare.

As for the rest of FY 2014, Nissan will push forward to bring more CHAdeMO stations online, from its network of dealerships, to top Leaf markets such as Atlanta, Los Angeles and Houston. Meanwhile, another vehicle will be able to make use of the chargers when the 2015 Kia Soul EV goes on sale later on this summer.

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PSA Suspends EV Order, Has Enough Wed, 08 Aug 2012 14:58:04 +0000 In 2010, when everybody was going ecstatic about EVs, PSA Peugeot Citroen said to Mitsubishi: “send us some of your i-Mievs, with our badges. Say, 100,000 for starters.”

PSA sold them (as much as they could) as the Peugeot iOn and Citroen C-Zero, the first car that sounds like sugar-free soda-pop. Now, PSA picked up the phone, called Japan, and said: “Hold the i-Mievs! We have enough!”   

PSA Peugeot Citroen suspended deliveries of electric cars made by Mitsubishi Motors “to avoid inventory build-up amid lower-than-expected sales,” The Nikkei [sub] reports.

Says a very diplomatic Nikkei:

“Plug-in electric vehicles haven’t seen the rapid uptake that some car makers had hoped, held back by their high cost, the lack of charging facilities and limited range of around 180 kilometers, although this is improving as the technology develops.”  

The uptake was limited to 900 Peugeot iOns for the first six months, down 40 percent from the same period of 2011, and 1,200 Citroen C-Zeros, a far cry from the optimistic goals.

A PSA spokeswoman told The Nikkei that they are not giving up on the EVs, calling the delivery stop a “temporary adjustment.”

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Green Cars In The Reds Fri, 22 Jul 2011 15:56:06 +0000

When I was a very young and very green copywriter, Dr. Carl Hahn, at the time CEO of Continental Tires and later CEO of Volkswagen, said in an agency brief: “We lose 10 Deutschmarks on every tire we sell.”

“Then we better stop advertising them,” said I.

Hahn gave me a pained look. The look was followed by real and massive pain in my left foot, because my Creative Director had kicked me viciously.

“Ouch!” I said.

“You’ve got that right,” said Hahn.

That little story crossed my mind when I read in The Nikkei [sub] that “Mitsubishi Motors Corp.’s electric vehicles and other eco-friendly offerings are expected to begin contributing to the firm’s bottom line in two years.” This according to Mitsu’s Executive Vice President Hiizu Ichikawa. With its i-MiEV, Mitsubishi had been one of the first to offer a (well…) mass-produced EV. The cars are not necessarily flying off dealers’ lots.

“During the period covered by the current business plan, we hope to reach the point where they will no longer drag down our earnings,” Ichikawa said. The break-even level is of 60,000 to 70,000 units sold annually, and Mitsubishi hopes to get there in the fiscal year ending in March 2014. For this year, the optimistic plan calls for selling 25,000 units – at a loss.

Mitsubishi hopes to ignite sales by cutting prices and using a cheaper battery. Nissan goes to opposite route and raises prices for its Leaf.

This situation may explain why manufacturers with salable EVs are expanding production o0nly VEEERY carefully, and why manufacturers with EVs on PowerPoint charts or in prototype form  are reluctant to crank them out in high numbers. Although, as the kick under the table still reminds me to this day, if you don’t have the gumption for high numbers, you’ll never get your investment back.




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Battle Of The Batteries: Toyota And Nissan Power Houses With Cars Thu, 30 Jun 2011 15:49:00 +0000

„When will it discharge?“ asked a reporter on Monday at Nissan. I ducked under my desk. “In one or two years,” answered Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn. I broke cover when I realized that they were talking about the Leaf powering the house.

Running your house from your car battery suddenly is all the rage in Japan. Why would you do that?  It doesn’t need another tsunami for Japanese to worry about electricity. What’s the hottest Android app in Nippon? “TEPCO usage!” It shows us how much power we consume. Yesterday (green line,) we were at 93 percent, perilously close to overload.

“And it’s not even July yet,” said Paul Nolasco of Toyota, who today met a perspiring me at the Nagoya Shinkansen station. We were on our way to Toyota City, to witness the discharge of a Toyota Prius into a house.

As it turned out, the house is ready, but the car is not. The plug-in hybrid Prius won’t be commercially available before 2012. By that time, Toyota also wants to have figured out how to discharge the juice in the Prius back into the house.

But boy do they have the house! And a few hundred more on the way. Prefabbed by Toyota Housing Corporation, the house comes with networked electrical appliances, solar panels, a 5 kwh household storage battery, and assorted gadgetry. Of course, there is a charging pod with a CHAdeMO compliant plug.

Inside are many screens that allow the owners of the house to monitor electric consumption if watching today’s episode of “Kiri ni sumu akuma” (“Devil in the fog”) should not be gripping enough.

We didn’t need Japanese soap operas for suspense. When the national and international press (the latter represented by Ran Kim of Reuters and this reporter) descended on the smart home made by Toyota, a Mitsubishi i-MiEV was found parked side-by-side with the Prius plug-in hybrid prototype.

The intruder was promptly removed.

Then, the PHV Prius was ready to Meet The Press.

This is the load center of the house. The main breaker says 75A. Very miserly

The 30A breaker in the middle is for the solar system. The 20A breaker is for the EV charger pod. The unconnected 20A breaker? Further expansion.  Note the thin wires for monitoring. The coils around the two hot legs of the 30A breaker allow for amperage measurement.  The EV charger pod has its own communication capabilities.

This is the 5 kwh storage battery of the house, as introduced by Yamaguchi Kazuhiko,  chief of Toyota’s Smart Grid Group..

The batteries next to the house and in the car can be used for when the sun doesn’t shine, or, in a high demand situation, for load leveling. When others in Japan stare at the afternoon peak with trepidation, the house can go off-grid and run from the batteries for a few hours. Should all admonitions to save power remain unheeded and the dreaded rolling blackouts come along, the batteries will keep the lights on.

But what if a disaster strikes again? On Monday, Carlos Ghosn said that the battery of a Leaf would be able to power a Japanese house for two days, the power-oinker of an American house will survive on a Leaf alone “for one day only.”

After he was done addressing reporters, I asked Hiroshi Okajima, Project General Manager of Toyota how long a Japanese house could function, powered by a plug-in hybrid Prius alone. He pulled out pen and envelope, and said after some quick calculation: “With a full tank of gas, 10 days.”

Let’s hope that huge disaster won’t strike before the discharge-ready Prius is available. Smaller disasters should wait at least for the availability of the discharge-ready Leaf.



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Mitsubishi Declares EV Price War, Reduces Range Wed, 15 Jun 2011 15:47:28 +0000

Mitsubishi wants to attack one of the biggest problems of EVs: Their lofty price. Mitsu’s i-MiEV EV retails for 3.98 million yen ($49,200). Government subsidies will slash a million (yen) off that price. Converted to dollars, that $36,900, still steep.  The Nissan Leaf costs 3.76 million yen ($46,500) before subsidies and sells much better than the Mitsumobile. Now, Mitsubishi wants to lop a million yen off the i-MiEV’s sticker price.

“The planned vehicle is expected to be the least expensive electric passenger car in Japan,” writes The Nikkei [sub]. After subsidies, the EV will costs the Japanese buyer less than 2 million yen ($24,700).

Where do the big savings come from? From a punier battery. The existing model is good for 160km (100 miles) per battery charge. The new model will go only 120km (75 miles). The Nissan Leaf claims a range of 100 miles.

If you are in the market for an i-MiEV, save your ticket to Tokyo. U.S. prices are much lower. The 2012 i-MiEV will carry a base MSRP price of $27,990, before the Federal $7,500 EV tax credit and state incentives. In states like California and Hawaii that dole out extra government money, the effective  i-MiEV price could be as low as $15,500.

Nissan will most likely pick up that gauntlet and throw it right back. And what we’ll get is the first round of the EV up-sell wars: “Now, Sir, may I write you down for the bigger battery? We don’t want your wife to run out of juice in a bad neighborhood, right?”

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TEPCO Goes Into Hiding Fri, 22 Apr 2011 17:49:11 +0000

Advertising on the side of your corporate fleet is a great idea. Especially if you are an electric company and you have electric cars.

Japan’s TEPCO just changed its mind.

The company that owns and operates the stricken Fukushima nuclear power plant decided that discretion is the better part of valor and taped over their company name on the sides of the company-owned Mitsubishi i-MIEV plug-ins. Reasons were not offered. But it won’t be hard to come up with a few.

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Mitsubishi i-MiEV: Plus-Sized For America Tue, 09 Nov 2010 21:31:14 +0000

The strange looking vehicle on the right is a European-spec Mitsubishi i-MiEV, a 63 HP, 75-100 mile-range electric vehicle. The strange looking vehicle on the left is a US-spec Mitsubishi i-MiEV, specially “improved” for the US audience. USA Today puts it best, reporting

The iMiEV for the U.S. will be — surprise, surprise — bigger than the ones it sells in Japan and Europe. That’s because Americans are fatter.

In case you’d forgotten. No word on just how much bigger the i-MiEV needed to become in order to “meet the expectations of U.S. consumers,” but considering the apparent necessity of grafting on a slack-jawed underbite, one hopes the difference is noticeable on the inside. We’ll find out for sure at the LA Auto show, but in the meantime, hit the jump to find out what we hope doesn’t grow as the i-MiEV slips into something a little more American.

Now, we want to make it clear that direct price comparisons between markets are always problematic, but if you add back the £5k government grant and convert the i-MiEV’s price to dollars you get something like $46,000. For the equivalent of 63 horsepower and a sub-100 mile range and, apparently, a tiny interior. Everything sells at a price, but unless the US-spec i-MiEV stickers for considerably less than its European cousins, it’s hard to see this little EV going anywhere. Mitsubishi may regret spending the money to”Americanize” this electric city car.

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Imagine A World Where Electric Cars Rule: Go To Goto Fri, 11 Jun 2010 15:11:45 +0000

The remote Goto Islands in the East China Sea, about 60 miles west off the port city of Nagasaki are turning into the world’s laboratory for massive EV deployment. The islands used to be known for heir unspoiled nature and their old churches. Soon, they’ll be know as the island of EVs. That because of a large-scale pilot project that began on the islands in April.

The islands are ideal for such an experiment. Range anxiety? The largest island of the Goto group, Fukue, measures some 16 miles across. If you really want to test the range of an EV, go to Nakadori island. 25 miles long and usually not more than 5 miles wide. The islands have an aging and falling population, gasoline prices are high. The cost of bringing gas to the island results in the islands having some of the highest gasoline prices in Japan. Electricity is cheap, brought in by undersea cable from the mainland.

What Fukue lacks in size, Fukue makes up in charging stations. Says The Nikkei [sub]: “While there are still only 150 rapid electric chargers in Japan, in June the islands will have 15, provided by the prefecture. In September, a new tourism information service will begin using the Intelligent Transportation System. No other place in the world has such a well-developed electric transport infrastructure.” By late March 100 of the plug-ins had arrived. A quarter of the island’s rentals are already electric cars, usually Mitsubishi i-MiEVs.

The electric rentals are popular. They cost the same as a gasoline powered car. The electricity is subsidized by local governments, so renters can charge-up free of charge.

Goto turns into a (fairly) big beta test site for EVs. Drivers complain about the chargers. “Too heavy!” “The plug won’t go in!” “The instructions are mystifying.”

The rapid charger uses high voltage that comes through a hefty able. Two levers must be operated. An assistant is standing by to help, but it’s already clear that the charger needs a work-over. Plugging it in requires handling two levers. It takes some practice to use. The city has a worker at each charging station to help, but improvements will be necessary, especially as more charging stations are built.

The people of Goto meet regularly for brainstorming sessions on how to improve the system. Like with portable generators, in case someone ran out of juice. Or to equip the chargers with the nattering voice instructions that are so popular in Japan.

Anyway, if your company is in the EV business, then you absolutely must put in for a trip to Goto Island. I hear, the beaches are nice, and summer would be the best season. Fly to Nagasaki, then take an island hopper, or the ferry.

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