• Mar 22nd 2011 at 9:02AM
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U.S.-market Mitsubishi i – Click above for high-res image gallery

It was obvious, when Mitsubishi unveiled the U.S.-market battery-powered i at the 2010 LA Auto Show, that the new car was longer and wider than the original i-MiEV. The i's added length was needed, at least in part, to make the vehicle comply with U.S. safety regulations. As Maurice Durand, manager of product communications for Mitsubishi Motors North America, told us, the additional width can also accommodate "larger frame people." Turns out, there is another reason that wider and longer is better.

Recently, Durand told Automotive News (sub. req.) that the i's dimensions give it improved "highway manners" compared to the i-MiEV. According to Durand, adapting the i-MiEV for American driving styles meant making the i slightly longer and five inches wider than the i-MiEV. Additionally, the i's meatier tires provide some extra stability at freeway speeds

The electric i is expected to go on sale in the U.S. this fall and should hit the market with a price tag that's "around $30,000."


LA 2010: 2012 Mitsubishi i-MiEV
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Photos copyright ©2010 Jeff Glucker / AOL

[Source: Automotive News – sub. req.]


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 28 Comments
      • 4 Years Ago
      If they can price this car under 30K before the government handouts, they should be able to gain some traction. Otherwise the Leaf will eat their lunch. Except for Evo fans, I doubt most Americans even know where a Mitsu dealership is.
        • 4 Years Ago
        I think if they had brought the gen 1 vehicle to the US, they'd have given Nissan a real run for the money. Waiting for gen1.5 puts them behind the curve relative to the Leaf & Volt.
        • 4 Years Ago
        $27,499 = traction.
      • 4 Years Ago
      If petrol prices rise as much as I expect Nissan simply will not be able to build enough Leafs to supply demand.
      That means that the Mitsu would be grabbed up too.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Mitsu have not got the economies of scale, in particular in battery production, open to Nissan/Renault.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Mitsubishi might outpace Nissan.

        The iMiev is a very simple car. There's just not much too it, so I think Mitsu can underprice the Leaf by several thousand $.

        Priced low enough, I could see the iMiev exploding onto the market just like the VW Beetle did .... possibly with the same "budget minded counter culture crowd" driving sales.

        MItsu should make it:
        - simple
        - cute
        - cheap

        Make it this century's Beetle.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Skier,
        if the planned production increase was almost immediate, it certainly refers to Japan, as the UK and US factories won't be built for some time.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @Carcus
        As David says, economy of scale is not on Mitsubishi's side. Plus they can't take any kind of hit like Nissan can, since they aren't doing that well financially.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @Carcus,
        You're really shooting blanks today with your naive instructions to car companies to make cheap EVs.

        "Lithium Energy Japan and GS Yuasa announced production increases at two factories to make 9,000 i-MIEV batteries a year." -- http://www.greencarcongress.com/2010/02/report-battery-suppliers-for-imiev-boosting-production-plans-by-50.html

        Meanwhile, "Nissan's joint battery venture Automotive Energy Supply Corp (AESC) ... will almost immediately double its production of li-ion batteries from the planned amount of 54,000 annually to the new target of 90,000 per annum." -- http://green.autoblog.com/2010/06/15/nissan-announces-plans-to-double-li-ion-battery-production-as-le/
        And I don't think that includes Nissan's Tennessee and UK battery plants.

        Getting to 100,000s volume costs money, BIG money. AFAIK there's no indication Mitsubishi and its partners have made the investment.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Careful roundeye,

        You underestimate the power of Zaibatsu!
        • 4 Years Ago
        They already can't handle demand.
      • 4 Years Ago
      The reports I read said one minute the range said 25 miles on the Leaf, and suddenly they were in Turtle mode.

      State of charge estimation is not trivial.
        • 4 Years Ago
        That's not SOC estimation, that's range estimation. Nissan doesn't have a real SOC gauge, just a 12 bar one that tries to emulate a gas gauge, and by most accounts it fail miserably since the 12 units is just not enough granularity.

        The issue isn't even the need for a explicit SOC number, but rather something that isn't a moving target (unlike range estimation). The Tesla Roadster provides both: it has a SOC gauge that is continuous (not just 12 discrete units) and also a "ideal range" number that is based entirely on the EPA estimate and doesn't adjust to your driving. Then it has the same range estimation that does adjust to your driving.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Range estimation is based in large part upon state of charge estimation which is based in part on state of health estimation, and, if done well, upon many other factors. Such as energy in, energy out, rate of energy in and out, temperature versus rate versus energy, previous performance, cell balance, and on and on. Mapping all of this and plotting the possible paths through all these contours is difficult, not to mention modeling all of the interactions.

        My ACP drive train did an acceptable job of this. Bu the only reports I saw of behavior like that described in the Leaf was when something clear was broken.

        If the reports are true, Nissan has lot of work left to do.
        • 4 Years Ago
        12 units is more than enough granularity. The problem is that it is very difficult to linearly map the battery's state of charge to that scale.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I wonder what effect that extra five inches of width (i.e., increased frontal area giving more aerodynamic drag) has on range.
      • 4 Years Ago
      @skierpage,

      Your links are duds. You're comparing actual production to another's planned production.

      Let's keep it apples to apples shall we, hmmmmm?


      "By the second half of fiscal year 2012, when the Ritto Plant begins operations, LEJ will be capable of producing 6 million cells (enough for 67,800 EVs) through these three production bases of Kusatsu, Kyoto, and Ritto. LEJ aims to expand its Japanese operations to accommodate 100,000 EVs per year in the future."

      http://green.autoblog.com/2010/04/16/mitsubishi-battery-venture-to-build-new-lithium-ion-plant-produ/
      • 4 Years Ago
      Hello Mitsubishi, how about an i with a gas or diesel engine for the people that can not use an electric car?
        • 4 Years Ago
        The Japanese kei version of the "i" does come in a gasoline powered version. The electric i-MiEV is based on that conventional platform.
      • 4 Years Ago
      All this stuff about how longer & wider is better makes me wonder if Mitsu corp also makes Enzyte.
      • 4 Years Ago
      If Mitsubishi has better state of charge estimation than Nissian, the price might be less important. A couple recent stories indicate that Nissan has a flawed product, stopping with essentially no warning. This could kill the Leaf
        • 4 Years Ago
        Yeah, no warning at all other than the reading on the gauge that tells you how much power you have.
        They were looking at the wrong indicator.
        It's a bit like not realising that you were about to run out of petrol because you were looking at the speedo, and complaining that it did not tell you.
        • 4 Years Ago
        I'm not surprised that this has become a problem. Accurately determining a state of charge is very difficult for battery systems . . . it is not like a gas tank where you can just easily detect a physical level of a liquid.

        And Lithium batteries have a very flat discharge curve which then suddenly drops off. It is not easy to determine when that drop-off will occur.
        • 4 Years Ago
        No, according to the complaints on mynissanleaf.com, they were looking at the Nissan "miles" remaining, which didn't count down mile-by-mile, but instead simply went from a moderate number to zero as the motor abruptly cut out.

        It's a legitimate complaint, and one that Nissan should have foreseen and rectified.

        People are used to watching the remaining miles on trip computers, and the presentation and calibration of the miles remaining were entirely within Nissan's control.

        In ICE-powered vehicles, the remaining miles gauge is calibrated to not only go down smoothly in tight increments, but also to leave some tiny "reserve" margin of a few more miles yet again. It's a conservative approach that reduces the risk of getting stranded.

        Nissan took the opposite approach, to give a "higher" miles remaining number, due to them pushing "100 mile AER" as a major selling point of the car. The remaining Nissan "miles" number isn't accurate, and isn't achievable in many cases. Worse, it doesn't taper properly, for a clean mile-by-mile countdown. And it doesn't provide a short range "limp home" mode on "reserve" power. It's an inelegant result, and an ungraceful recovery.

        The fact is, informed people got stranded on the road thinking that the Nissan "miles" were correct. That's a problem. At worst, people should be able to see that the car is running on battery "reserve" and counting down the miles really fast, giving them time to pull off the road and into the nearest parking lot with a handful of "miles" remaining.

        Fortunately, as this is all software, it's fixable with new firmware. Unfortunately, Nissan's got their hands full right now, and pushing firmware updates won't their highest priority for quite a while.
      • 4 Years Ago
      $30,000 for that. A fool and his money are soon parted.
      • 4 Years Ago
      They have an I-MEV sitting out front the Mitsu dealership in Normal IL. It was not for sale, no price on it. Normal IL is the home of the Mitsu plant in the U.S. AKA evtown. http://evtown.org/
      • 4 Years Ago
      I sat in the originial MiEV, it was actually really nice and i'm sad that they changed it.
      Far more comfortable than a smart car or a mini in my experience.

      EVs aren't really for highway duty right now anyway. I am sure the original car was lighter and more aerodynamic, and i wish they would have stuck with it.
        • 4 Years Ago
        As they say: 'Only in America!' ;-)
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