The current world of
electric vehiclesoffers 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
Europeand 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.
Jerrytook 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-MiEVisn’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 Booksays 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
CarSalesBase, 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
Japan. 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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