EVs Are Great, Just Don't Buy The Battery Part Two: 50 Percent Depreciation In Three Years
With the Mitsubishi i-miev electric car about to hit the British market, the BBC decided to break down the Pounds and tuppence behind the EV hype. And though it found that the i-miev comes out looking quite well thanks to Britain’s EV consumer subsidy, its freedom from congestion charges and road tax, fuel price differences and estimated servicing costs, it has one eye-popping cost associated with it: nearly 50 percent depreciation over the first three years. And that’s what Mitsubishi is willing to cop to. So not only will your new i-miev cost about twice as much as a little Fiat 500, it will lose about enough value after three years to have paid for that same Cinquecento. Needless to say, as American consumers begin their own first flirtations with the electric automobile, we will continue to keep a close eye on this issue.
Would you buy an Elise to go to the grocery store? And would you buy a Yaris to take to trackdays? And no, even the boys at ye olde Sport Compact Car couldn't wring blood out of that stone... The Yaris and Elise are two completely different vehicles that serve different purposes. The iMIEV and Fiat 500 are around the same size, drive the same, and have similar performance. The only difference is the engine. And no, a diesel Yaris isn't as far removed from a gasoline Yaris as an Elise, which is the connection you're trying to make. They just have different engines. The whole point of cars like the iMIEV is that they're meant to replace gasoline cars like the Fiat 500. They'll be bought by the same people, and will be used to do the same thing. The selling point being the electric car should be more convenient to use, less polluting and cheaper to run. Which it is... if you get a 5,000 GBP subsidy.
There's nothing wrong with buying something for a purpose it's not designed for... which is why my aunt, a school secretary, drives a Viper to school. BUT: You market a car to the general public, you market it on its strengths. Porsche 911s and Dodge Vipers are marketed as sports cars, and advertising touts their track performance and performance numbers. Advertising imagery shows them going fast. These cars are marketed based on those attributes... though we all know they'll end up taking owner to the coffee shop on those one or two sunny days out of each year when traffic isn't choked to a standstill. Yes, it's terribly wasteful, but our entire way of life is wasteful, so it's a bit hypocritical to cite one thing as being better than another unless you wear a hair shirt and eat berries in the sticks. Mitsubishi is marketing the iMIEV here as a people mover. A small car for commuters. And it's on those strengths it'll be judged. The only added "performance" of the iMIEV over a traditional ICE car is the ability to cool down the cabin on a hot day without choking you with monoxide fumes... and the low cost of operation. Sure, there's nothing preventing people from paying a huge premium for *perceived* value (much like they do for BMWs or MBs, much to my puzzlement... because I do like canned ham), but again, this is much like deciding between a gasoline Yaris and a diesel Yaris... or an EV Yaris (there are shops that do the conversion)... not like deciding between a Yaris and an Elise. The extra value is in the economy and environmental benefits... which are closely intertwined... because the less you pay per kilometer... the less you are polluting. Of course... it's kind of peculiar that it takes 10,000 GBP to make it worth it... (money which can go to environmental incentives that benefit more than just a few commuters who are unwilling to take public transport) and Mitsubishi's tiny little electric is never going to work out on the general market without huge incentives... unlike the LEAF, which is nearly cost-effective without government backing, and which would save you much more given the same presumptions and conditions. Mind you... I think the 911 and Viper are a waste of money, too (since, if you're interested in going on track, a secondhand Dodge Neon will serve the purpose much better), but c'est la vie.