It’s always a little sad to see an existing model discontinued. Well, almost always. Mitsubishi is taking the hint and officially killing the unloved i-MiEV — something we are willing to bet isn’t going to inspire an abundance of heartache within the driving community.
Despite being a pioneering electric car (and kind of cute), the i-MiEV was never what one might consider a volume vehicle. Since 2015, North America had frequently seen months where the little Mitsubishi couldn’t even break out of the single digit sales bracket. Last year, Canada sold a total of 86 units and the United States moved 94.
With a 62-mile range rating and one of the smallest interiors money can buy, it has always been poorly suited for the majority of American drivers’ needs and repeatedly slashing the price never made up the difference. While Nissan’s Leaf comes in almost $8,000 grand higher, $22,995 is still a lot to pay for something you don’t want — and nobody wanted an i-MiEV.
A day after its head office was raided by Japanese Transport Ministry officials, the U.S. is going to put Mitsubishi’s mileage claims under scrutiny.
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!”
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.”
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 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.
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.
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