Mitsubishi has been working on electric vehicles for a long time. So much so that the car the company is now calling the "100% battery-powered Mitsubishi i for the U.S. market" was emblazoned with the words "40 years of EV development" on its back bumper when it as unveiled at the LA Auto Show today. As the sketches we saw of the widebody i hinted at, the new vehicle is indeed longer and wider than the original i-MiEV in order to meet U.S. safety regulations. Oh, and the inside is "a little bit larger for larger frame people," said Maurice Durand, manager of product communications for Mitsubishi Motors North America. Yes, America, Mitsubishi has heard your pleas for more butt space.
The electric i will go on sale in the U.S. next fall and be priced "around $30,000." The company expects to sell just 20,000 units by fiscal 2015, a modest goal, indeed. This is due, in part, to Mitsubishi positioning the i as an electric vehicle best suited for commuting, not one intended to replace the SUV or car you take on long road trips. "Frankly, the main purpose of this car for us is to get us in as a stakeholder in the electric vehicle game and to help pave the way for our future products," Durand told AutoblogGreen. What future Mitsubishi vehicle might that be? The PX-MiEV. Details are yet to come.
As this vehicle shows, the MiEV name survives as something to brand Mitsubishi's eco drivetrains that are based on the battery system used in the i and the i-MiEV. The hardware in the American and European and Japanese vehicles are the same, but the software that runs it is going to be upgraded for the U.S so that car hits a range target of 85 miles on the LA4 test cycle and performs as American drivers expect.
Once available, buyers will be able to buy a preferred 220V charging station, designed and manufactured by Eaton that can fully charge an empty battery in eight hours, at Best Buy. Mitsubishi had a partnership with Best Buy in the past and had some Geek Squad groups use Japanese-spec i-MiEVs for service calls. Having Best Buy get familiar with the vehicle – learn how it charges and how it reacts in a real world environment – helped convince the retail giant to sell the charger, Durand said.