There’s a revolution under way, and it’s being fought with volts and kilowatts. This is the new-age arsenal of which those shopping for electrically powered automobiles such as Mitsubishi’s iMiEV will become increasingly familiar.
The iMiEV hatchback that’s scheduled to arrive here in late 2011 joins the all-electric Nissan Leaf and Tesla roadster plus the gasoline-supported Chevrolet Volt as pioneers in the automotive clean-energy movement. Additional models, including the Mini E and Smart Fortwo Electric, are currently (pun intended) in limited production, while Ford’s Transit Connect van and compact Focus will become electrified for the 2012 model year. Other automakers, both large and small, have similar plans to join the electric motorpool.
At this point, the iMiEV will be one of the smallest electrical offerings to be mass produced for general consumption. But in terms of accommodations and price, it should prove to be one of the more attractive.
The lightweight (1,180 kilograms) and efficiently designed iMiEV is bound to succeed on price alone. The fact that its minimalist and futuristic styling will play well with the eco crowd should help keep Mitsubishi’s green machine solidly in the black right from the outset.
Revolution? Ready, aim, charge.
The iMiEV’s 49-kilowatt (66-horsepower) electric motor is located in the rear and directs its 145 pound-feet of torque to the rear wheels.
The iMiEV’s top speed is 130 km/h, but driving at that velocity for any length of time will quickly sap its 330-volt lithium-ion battery pack positioned beneath the passenger floor.
Mitsubishi places the typical range at about 135 kilometres per charge, less than the 160 kilometres claimed by the Nissan Leaf and other electrics.
A 240-volt home charging system will top up the iMiEV in about six hours. Plug it into a regular 120-volt home outlet, however, and it’s an agonizingly-long 22.5 hours. That doesn’t leave much time in the day for driving.
What will eventually be needed is a network of public charging stations that allow all electric vehicle owners to top up the batteries in the shortest possible time.
The iMiEV’s true purpose is abundantly clear: a short-haul urban commuter pod that can also tackle more mundane chores.
It will easily accommodate four adults as long as they’re packing light. However with only the front seats in use, cargo capacity with the 50:50 rear seatbacks folded flat matches the space available in the larger Nissan Leaf.
Base price: $34,600