Electric cars are still in their infancy and, as with any new technology, certain issues are sure to pop up. Overcoming some of these concerns such as limited range and lack of infrastructure will take time, but early adopters of this new technology may be in for more than bargained for. We saw what happened to a Southern California Public Radio reporter yesterday, and now we have a report from Autocar about putting the Mitsubishi i-MiEV to the test for a full week over in England. They came away less than impressed, not with the car, but with the lack of support available for such a vehicle.
The journey started as you might expect. The i-MiEV was dropped off for testing and Autocar immediately scheduled a full week of activities. First up, a trip to nearby Alton, a 30-mile trek. The driver had been advised that the heater running at full blast would kill the range, so it was turned off. Arriving in Alton with a quarter charge remaining, the driver scrambled to find a charger but to no avail leaving him with the sole option of calling on a local friend to drop the car off for the night while borrowing another ride.
The next problem cropped up when the i-MiEV was taken back to the reviewer's home for charging. Mitsubishi instructs owners to avoid the use of extension cords, but this turns out to by next to impossible if you don't have an outdoor outlet capable of charging the vehicle. As the reviewer discovered, charging via an extension cord leads to hot cables – but at least it gets the job done.
After charging, the i-MiEV headed out to London, a perfect place for EVs, right? The city is full of chargers so the i-MiEV should be right in its element. Turns out you can't just plug into a charger and swipe your credit card, you must pre-register to use a charging station, that's a bit inconvenient. The driver needed to bring the i-MiEV to the local Tesla showroom for some more juice before returning on the 15-mile trek back to Hampton. Continue after the jump for the rest of the story.
Live photos by Sebastian Blanco / Copyright ©2009 Weblogs, Inc.
The entire week is full of adventures which revolve around range and chargers. Carefully planned routes and calling ahead for charging preparations were a must. Autocar concluded its week long endeavor with these words:
When you're sure you won't run out of power, you can really enjoy the Mitsubishi. That's why, as the week draws to a close, I'm confident that the electric car will be part of the future – but not the immediate future. The range of the i-MiEV is hopeless. Yes, it's designed for city driving, but that means living in the city itself, not the suburbs. You also need your own charging post outside your house to run one, which means having your own personal parking space. I don't.
What's interesting is that their review suggests that the i-MiEV is actually quite fun to drive and would be even more so if the limited range and lack of accessible chargers were addressed. At one point during the week they got to try out the non-electric i-MiEV and discovered that the gas version was not nearly as entertaining as its electric counterpart. Looks like a widespread charging network is about all that is needed to take these vehicles out of the shadows and into the spotlight.