The 2012, 2014, and 2017 Mitsubishi i-MiEV, Mitsubishi's Original EV

The Mitsubishi i-MiEV had a pretty short run in the U.S. What killed the tiny Japanese electric car?
Written by Andrew Koole
Reviewed by Kathleen Flear
The current world of
electric vehicles
offers models from a wide variety of automakers. But back in 2012, drivers looking for a no-emission option were limited to just nine brands—two of which stopped manufacturing cars altogether only a few years later.
One of the more familiar early adopters was Mitsubishi. After introducing its first electric car, the i-MiEV, in
and Asia, the Japanese conglomerate brought the SmartCar-sized EV to the U.S. in 2012. But the increased competition that followed quickly put the i-MiEV’s run to an end.
 took a look at the evolution of this pioneer to give you an idea of why this tiny car couldn’t cut it in the growing EV world.

Mitsubishi i-MiEV: the early years

To 2022 eyes, the 2012
Mitsubishi i-MiEV
isn’t exactly impressive. When it arrived on U.S. shores, its 16-kWh battery could only last 62 miles. This meant quick charge times (80% in 30 minutes) but a lot of trips home for charging since public stations were still rare.
Thanks to the immediate transfer of power from the electric powertrain, the i-MiEV could zip around town pretty well, but
Kelley Blue Book
says a lead foot would diminish the already minuscule range of the car.
By 2014, Mitsubishi had a lot more competition to tend within the affordable EV market. To keep its position as a viable option, it lowered its price from $29,000 to just under $24,000 while adding a few features to the “standard” list like heated front seats and a quick-charge port.
Unfortunately, the one key weakness of the car didn’t get any upgrade—its range.
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The end of the Mitsubishi i-MiEV’s U.S. run

Tesla introduced the Model S the same year that Mitsubishi brought the i-MiEV to the U.S. The Model S debuted with a battery pack that could last 265 miles. 
While Mitsubishi continued offering the same golf cart sized errand-runner, Tesla kept pushing the envelope of what an EV could do. By 2017, the Model S had a maximum range of 350 miles. The i-MiEV still only offered 62.
Obviously, sales weren’t great. 2013 was the best year for U.S. purchases of the car, according to
, with just over 1,000 units moving nationwide. 
Sales dropped significantly after that. In total, Mitsubishi sold an embarrassing 2,100 i-MiEVs to Americans before pulling the plug on bringing the car here in 2017.

The Mitsubishi i-MiEV’s international fate

Mitsubishi had more success with the i-MiEV in other markets, especially in its home country of
. Marketed as a kei car in the island nation, it was first introduced in 2009 and continued to be produced for domestic drivers until 2020.
Globally, over 31,000 i-MiEVs were sold. That’s a tiny number compared to most vehicles, but the i-MiEV was always a niche product, and its rate of sale was enough for the company to keep it in the lineup for over a decade. 

Is a used Mitsubishi i-MiEV worth looking at?

Because EV technology has advanced so quickly, the Mitsubishi i-MiEV doesn’t hold much value as a used car. 
But there are a few similarly priced, more reliable models available in the U.S. like the Nissan Leaf and Chevy Bolt, and you can find cheap car insurance for them by shopping with
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