When it first went on sale in the U.S. in 2011, the Mitsubishi i-Miev electric car was priced in excess of $27,000 before incentives but after mandatory handling and shipping fees. Then in 2012 and 2014, it received some pretty heavy price cuts in the face of tough competition from larger, more capable cars like the Nissan LEAF EV and Chevrolet Volt range-extended EV.
With sales figures of less than 2,000 cars since its launch, the i-Miev has skipped the 2013 and 2015 model years, with no change from the 2012 and 2014 model year cars respectively. While the lack of a 2013 and 2015 model year cars never helped sales figures improve, the most recent price drop to $22,995 for the 2014 model year car has helped ensure that its place as one of the most affordable plug-in cars on the market in the U.S.
A few weeks back when Mitsubishi indicated a 2016 model year i-Miev would hit dealers in March, we’d hoped it would also come with a lowered price tag, since Mitsubishi had already indicated it would have the same 65-mile EPA range and basic features as the past four years of i-Miev models.
But for 2016 model year cars, the only change is an optional touchscreen navigation package, not a price drop, with only one trim level — the i-Miev ES — being available.
As Mitsubishi confirmed this morning, 2016 model year cars will go on sale in a few weeks priced from $22,995 before incentives — the same price as the 2014 model year car. After federal tax credits, purchase price should be as low as $15,495, provided the person buying the car has a tax bill large enough to offset the $7,500 tax credit against.
Additional state or local incentives could bring the price down further.
With seating for four, just 13.2 cubic feet of cargo space with those seats occupied and a tiny 49 kilowatt rear-mounted electric motor, the Mitsubishi i-Miev is better suited to life as a second or third car than a main commuter vehicle. But with both standard level 2 and CHAdeMO DC quick charging included as standard, it’s easy to recharge out and about, using the same DC quick charging stations as a Nissan LEAF or Kia Soul EV to recharge from empty to 80 percent full in under 30 minutes.
Its upright, compact design — originally inspired by Mitsubishi’s gasoline-powered Japanese-domestic market kei-class i car, produced between 2006 and 2013 — makes it easy to drive in busy cities, with tight turning and direct, responsive control.
But on large freeways, the tiny i-Miev can be victim to heavy side-buffeting at speed from larger vehicles and side winds, while its large frontal area means the battery drains shockingly fast at high speed.
As previously mentioned, the 2016 Mitsubishi i-Miev remains almost identical to the 2014 model year — which was sold during both 2013 and 2014. The only new option is a single $2,000 optional extra, consisting of a high-definition navigation system with 7-inch touch screen, real-time traffic, 3D mapping, handsfree system, steering-wheel mounted controls and USB port.
For reference, the entry-level 2015 Nissan LEAF S, with a longer 75-mile range and five rather than four seats starts at $29,010 before incentives. The two-seat Smart ForTwo Electric Drive Coupe — which gives a far more engaging city driving experience — is available from $25,000 before incentives.
With a purchase price far lower than that, the Mitsubishi i-Miev should certainly be on the test-drive list of anyone wanting an affordable electric car. But with such a short range, especially in winter, the i-Miev may still prove too unpractical for some.
If you’re looking for a fun, low-cost entry-level car to introduce you to electric motoring however, it’s well worth a try.
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