iMiev Sunset

Staff Car Report: Early 2010 Mitsubishi i-Miev Soldiering On After Four Years

Here at Transport Evolved, we like to practice what we preach. In fact, every regular contributor or staff writer also owns and drives some form of evolved car, be it electric, plug-in hybrid, or alternative fuel.

While the majority of us purchased our cars brand new however, conversion guru Kate Walton Elliott purchased her 2010 Mitsubishi i-Miev second hand last summer. Despite being a pre-production model used as part of a large UK test fleet into electric cars, her family plug-in still has what it takes to go the distance…

After a little over a year of driving, our iMiEV has quite definitely proven its worth. Despite a measly 60ish mile real-world range, our pre-first-generation Mitsubishi has racked up some pretty impressive feats.

A 240 mile round trip (in a weekend) to a friend’s wedding, a journey out to rural Dorset, in winter no less, and countless commutes, trips to the shops and visits to friends. And after that year, some things are still the same. The EV grin hasn’t faded for me, perhaps because I still drive a classic petrol car some of the time. So, as we are wafted along near silently by the iMiEV’s electric motor, I still revel in the peace and quiet. And it’s an infectious grin. We were tapped for a lift from the wedding, and the liftee’s excitement was tangible. Not only that, unlike when people travel in the back of one of our classic fleet, when she exited the iMiEV she expressed a desire to have an EV. Usually, after they’ve extricated themselves from the Minor or the Austin, people are clearly pleased to have had the experience, but not in a hurry to repeat it!

Rapid Charging at Wednesbury

Rapid Charging at Wednesbury, Midlands, UK.

Public charging still seems to place us as the supporting actresses to a minor celebrity. We pulled up at IKEA’s Wednesbury charger and my partner and I were asked by a succession of people the standard EV questions: How far does it go, How fast does it go, How long does it take to charge and How much does it cost to charge. Both my partner and I have become expert EV sales people because people are still fascinated by it. The mainstream media have, it seems, failed to answer the questions people really want answered. Perhaps because Top-Gear are too busy simulating what it’d be like if you ran out of charge to give people any idea of what it’s like when you don’t.

And we still occasionally play the lottery. I’ve always been notorious for running cars on fumes, and because we enjoy the peace and quiet we still push the iMiEV to its very limits. As we snuck back in to Bristol tonight, the iMiEV blinked its little turtle light at us and the range-remaining indicator flicked to all dashes. It wasn’t intentional, but the charger we wanted to use was closed, and the weather was hideous with headwinds all the way back from Birmingham.

But how does it feel a year on from our purchase, and how has the iMiEV performed. Well, the problem with writing a staff-car review for a car like the iMiEV is that we have, essentially, no real complaints.

The battery in the keyfob goes flat rather quickly, and perhaps in the production version it does something sensible, but in our iMiEV things just get a bit random. It’ll start flashing the hazard lights (but no in-vehicle indicators) while you’re travelling along the road. The battery-pack light will flick on and it’ll refuse to let you start the car for a few seconds while you faff around repositioning the keyfob in the car. All somewhat strange. But, now we have in our heads that when the chaos generator kicks in, you need a new battery in the keyfob, it’s no longer really a problem. It is mildly irritating that it doesn’t last a full year for the once-yearly service.

A more pressing irritation is that the heater really does suck power in an unnecessarily ridiculous way. Even just turning the fan on does hideous, hideous things to the range. Add in air-con or heating and you may as well just halve the range. It is, to be fair, a highly effective heater. It produces toasty warm or icy cool rapidly. But the technology in it is clearly well over the 4-years old of the car, and because the car lacks a heated (front) screen, as soon as autumn rains hit, you’re forced to use the fan even when it’s warm enough, leading to a rapid loss of range.

That mild irritation extends to the inability to not only remotely pre-heat the car, but also to use interior features with it plugged in at all. When we took our car down to Dorset in November, we resorted to pre-heating the car by sticking a fan-heater inside the car for a while, saving us the charge we’d use otherwise. It won’t let you turn the interior fan on at all with the car attached to a charging source. Part of this is no doubt because the car does use the aircon to provide thermal management for the batteries while charging, a feature which I suspect has prolonged the life of them. After a year of solid driving, in our four year old car, it’s range is still as it was when new. But that inability to use the aircon for anything else whilst its charging does niggle.

The first generation iMiEV dash is a model of simplicity

The first generation iMiEV dash is a model of simplicity

Despite these minor frustrations though it’s the simplicity of the car that delights us the most. It truly is a car you just get in and drive. From turning the ignition on to ‘READY’ is a few short seconds (unlike a lot of modern ICE-cars and modern EVs). It’s probably ready to roll in about the same time as our Morris 1000. And with the addition of our Type II adaptor (the pre-first edition car actually doesn’t support Type II charging) the ability to charge almost anywhere has proven invaluable. Days will go by without us charging at home because we’ve charged at a selection of locations around Bristol and Bath.

When people talk about EVs they often think of them as being a disruptive technology; which is true in the sense of its potential impact on, essentially, the oil industry. But in terms of its impact on your personal existence, it’s pretty much the opposite. Yes, it’s required a small change in habits, in that we now need to plug it in in the evening (sometimes), but in reality it’s just made our world a lot nicer. No more stops to fill up with petrol, no more setting off to work and suddenly realising that you forgot to fill up with petrol the day before, and a hell of a lot more quiet and comfortable journeys.


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  • Michael Thwaite

    I can confirm that the actual production unit is as solid as a rock – I know four owners including myself that have faultless cars, two years in – a testament to Mitsubishi and a bit of a snub to all of the other manufacturers!nnnYour cars headlights like very sophisticated, are they not the same halogen units we get in the USA?

  • Kate Walton-Elliott

    I know the front-end treatment of the US spec iMiEV is quite different to meet crash spec requirements there. Having had a quick look, the US spec iMiEV does appear to have subtly different lights (and twin windscreen (windshield) wipers…) although the specific differences between the US and UK (well, Japanese, in this instance) headlamps I don’t know as the UK one is just indicated as being ‘Halogen’.

  • BenBrownEA

    …I so rarely read anything about the iMiEV and most articles say it just won’t work at all for distance. Your article was shockingly refreshing and affirming. I think this is a maybe a second positive ownership review article after close to a hundred other articles. We are considering adding another vehicle to our informal ev cooperative here in the states. I myself would LOVE for it to be an iMiEV. I wonder if there are 1st generation MiEV’s coming off their leases in the US? ..I also wonder how hard it is to convert the halogen headlights to hi powered LED or come up with a practical window defrost that doesn’t suck energy?

    • lee colleton

      The defrost can be handled while the car is plugged in to save on battery depletion. Not sure about headlight conversions.

      • lee colleton

        This option might be added on to non-US cars via after-market OVMS hackery. See

    • martinwinlow

      Hi Ben, I bought a used i-Miev (actually a Peugeot iOn – Peugeot and Citroen do a re-badged i-Miev in Europe – virtually identical) in Jan14. It was ex-lease, 2011, had a little under 3k miles and cost u00a39k5. The new cost is u00a328k! Other cars from the same ‘batch’ can still be bought from dealers in the SW of the UK now for u00a38k. One currently has 6 on eBay. (Just mention my name, please, when you enquire as they’ll send me a wee referrers fee!)nnnI am just coming up to 10k miles now – so 7k in 8 months.nnnI have done 3 quite long journeys in mine totalling a good 1k miles using the rapid charge network that ecotricity (a renewables-based electric supply utility – “Turning electricity bills into windmills”) have installed at most motorway service areas in the UK (all, by the end of 2014). Whilst currently free to use, using them does mean a good 30-50% extra traveling time, booting the cars battery pack from empty to 80% in 30 minutes. The advantage is a much less stressful journey and, of course, every trip is something of an adventure!nnnAside from that, I charge during the off-peak period (0000-0700 GMT) and so my ‘fuel’ cost is well under 2p per mile. As Kate says, charging issues and the niggles aside, I reckon it is easily and by far away the best car I have owned in my 35 years of driving. Kate didn’t mention the acceleration which is crazy. It leaves everything behind at the lights without really even trying. A top speed of 85mph means you don’t miss an ICE tho I do most of my fast road driving at about 65-70.nnnThe 2 other annoyances I would add are lack of cruise control – daft as it would cost virtually nothing to add as everything is CAN-based, ‘drive by wire’ tech – and the ability to disable ‘creep’ i.e. when you are stationary and in gear and you take your foot of the brake, the car moves forward slowly without pressing the accelerator – like an ICE automatic. I find it very annoying as you are constantly fighting it when trying to stop smoothly and, of course, it is wasting power holding the car using the brakes. It would have been so easy to have a software option to disable it like the Tesla Model S does. You can, of course just put the gear stick into neutral and I usually do this as I am coming to a halt at about 3mph as the regen braking effect has ended by them anyway. But why wear out the gear linkage for the sake of a simple software mod?nnnThere are, incidentally several features that *can* be software-modified, but only if you have the Mitsu ‘MUT-III’ car analyser tool (a Chinese clone will cost you about u00a3350) that plugs into the CAN bus socket under the steering wheel. Nothing very exciting but it shows that creep deactivation would be a very simple thing to have added.nnnI would 100% recommend an i-Miev as a second car – a first one, even, if you don’t do much long distance driving.nnnI have the OVMS kit in mine (u00a380 for the basic box but you’ll need a bit of geek to install it) and it is very useful. If it didn’t exist, I would add to my list of niggles the fact that the iOn doesn’t have any remote telematics. Again, completely daft, when you consider that the iOn, at least, has it all built in already for the ‘SOS’ feature. It is a red button on the dash that, when pressed, uses a GSM (mobile phone) comms link to connect you to the SOS people through the CANbus-connected car radio allowing 2-way comms. They are also alerted to your precise location so the iOn must have a GPS receiver built in too! Why the owner can’t get access to it all without the cost and hassle of adding OVMS is beyond me! nnnI’m muchly looking forward to many more years of contented EVing in the iOn and Kate’s experiences have shown that as far as the battery is concerned, that I should get my money’s worth before I pass it on. MW

  • Kieron

    My i-miev has been and still is a revelation to me. It is the perfect second car and I echo the sentiments about it being the best car I have ever owned, period! 14000 miles in 18 months and the only thing I have done to it is check the tyre pressures and top up the window washer fluid! I can see us running the little car for at least 10 years for short runs around town and to local villages, even if the range drops to as fraction of what it is now. As soon as an affordable 200 mile car comes out, the Prius (long distance car) will get traded in so we are running 2 fully electric cars.nThere is definitely a change in the wind here in the UK with more and more rapid chargers appearing, most giving a free charge. I am seeing more Leafs around and I often see another electric car charging when I stop for a charge. This was not the case even 6 months ago in my experience.

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