Right now, most major manufacturers are desperate to slap a ‘hybrid’ badge on their car’s bottoms. Smart and MINI might be testing their electric vehicles (EV) but only Mitsubishi has been focusing on getting one on your driveway as soon as possible.
Mitsubishi has been working on battery-powered cars since the ’90s and it’s now launching its first EV. The MiEV (Mitsubishi innovative Electric Vehicle) is an electric version of its spacious 4-seater gasoline ‘i’ city car.
Mitsubishi has basically replaced the mid-rear engine of this striking Japan-built car with lithium-ion batteries, so it feels like you’re driving a regular car.
In fact, it actually handles better than the gas version because the heavy batteries give it a low centre of gravity.
With speeds of up to 140 km/h it’s not scary taking a blast on the highway, and if you’re crawling through city traffic, the ‘eco’ mode reduces power from 47kw to 18kw. ‘B’ increases the regenerative braking effect when you’re driving downhill.
The most noticeable difference is the silence, mounting to a space-car whiz when you boost towards 100 km/h. And of course you have to plug it in — seven hours for a full charge, or to 80 per cent in 30 minutes if you buy a quick charger.
The MiEV is cheap to run even if it won’t be cheap to buy. It has a range of up to 160 km, the qualities of a mainstream car including dealers to service it, and eco-brownie points all packaged up in cool Japanese design.
No wonder savvy drivers have already put deposits on the MiEVs that are being leased in small numbers from dealers globally this year.