The i MiEV is based on the Mitsubishi i car, a small “Kei class” car built for the Japanese market. Kei cars are less than 3.5 metres long, 1.5 wide, are limited to 130 kmh and 48 kW and 660cc engines. In Japan these cars have reduced purchase tax, registration costs, and are allowed to use special parking spots in every town set aside for them. Without such incentives, Kei cars have historically been slow sellers in Australia…
When Mitsubishi wanted to build an EV, they took the i car, released in 2006, and replaced the petrol engine and automatic transmission with a 3 phase permanent magnet AC motor (from an industrial forklift!) with a single speed transmission, and 16 kWh of lithium batteries mounted under the floor. This was the 2009 i MiEV.
In 2010 a bit over a hundred of these were shipped to Australia for a trial, where they were leased to customers for 3 years at a cost of over $60,000… These cars were Japanese market spec and differ a fair bit from the later models.
In 2012, the trial having been declared a success, the updated and facelifted 2012 model was released on general sale in Australia, at a shade under $50,000…a hefty sum for a small four seater!
Sadly for Mitsubishi, the Nissan Leaf was released a few months later, only $4,000 dearer and larger with more toys, more range, more power, and an extra seat…..Mitsubishi sales practically ceased immediately while Leaf sales took off!
Mitsubishi eventually made the decision to cease importing the i MiEV, allowing dealers to discount remaining stock heavily. They have since been dropped from availability in Australia, while continuing to be sold overseas.
Secondhand i MiEVs start at $20,000. I bought a 2010, and my wife bought a 2012…so I have had a chance to compare them back to back over a long period.
Is the 2012 worth the extra money?
Yes it is.
Here is a brief comparison of the 2010 vs the 2012.
2010 has 2 airbags, the 2012 has 6, including side airbags, giving it a 4 star ANCAP rating.
2012 has automatic headlights…somewhat balanced by the 2010 having rather nice LED headlights, although as I found to my cost these are $2,000 each to replace when a wallaby has broken one…
The 2012 has an upgraded controller, slightly more pep off the line, a bit better range, and the biggie which is that a 2012 will go to maximum level of regenerative braking when you put your foot on the brake pedal, whereas the 2010 has no connection between the brakes and controller so the regen will only ever be as high as you have set it. This does make a difference…
When the 2010 was built, the SAE J1772 charging standard had not been finalised, and the 2010 model lacks a crucial piece of electronics that communicates with public chargepoints…the charger will plug into the 2010 model, but the car won’t talk to the charger so no electricity flows. A company called Gelco in South Australia can supply a retrofit solution to this problem however.
The 2010 has a few extra gadgets that were deleted on the 2012 model, such as one touch down on all windows (2012 has this only on the driver’s window) and a leather steering wheel, as well as a smartkey keyless ignition switch. Don’t lose the smartkey if you buy a 2010…they are $400 each and take two months to come from Japan…
The wheels are different, with the 2010 having 7 spoke wheels that I love, while the 2012 has 3 spoke wheels that I find hideous…but tastes vary!
I also dislike the 2012 facelift which changed the bumpers and mirrors. I prefer the crisper sharp edged original to the more rounded later model.
In summary, I like the 2010 more, it’s prettier in my opinion and has a few nice extra touches, but I have to say the 2012 is a better car and is worth the extra money.
Regenerative braking is set by the shifter, which looks like a conventional auto shifter. There are three drive positions, each with a different level of regenerative braking. The shifter itself doesn’t shift any gears…the motor is connected directly to the differential and the shifter tells the controller whether to spin the motor forwards or backwards.
For a tiny car, the i MiEV is amazingly big inside…6 footers can comfortably sit in the back, and you would be amazed at what we have fit in with the seats folded down!
Torque; 180 Nm
Top speed 130 kmh
0-100; just over 12 seconds
1/4 mile; around 18 seconds
Battery capacity; 16 kWh
Official range; 150 km however 120 is more realistic, and living in the mountains I see a bit less than that, especially in winter with the heater on!