This article has been updated.
Seattleites, and those in the surrounding Puget Sound and Lake Washington communities, are eco-friendly and green. (Note: This is by no means an extreme understatement…). For those who want to be green on the roads, but also keep their pocket book in mind, there is now a minicar for you.
The 2015 Mitsubishi iMiEV is a fully electric minicar with a range of around 60 miles. This 5-door hatch starts at around $23,000, but if you subtract the Federal Tax Credit for Electric Vehicles of $7,500 for the iMiEV, you’re looking at spending around $15,000 for a fully electric car.
That’s about the same price as that 15 year old Subaru Impreza you were looking at and much cheaper than any other brand new EVs – or brand new vehicle, at that price…
For a little over $15K, the iMiEV comes with everything you need from a daily driver for what you do on the roads. You have heat, a radio, plenty of room for everything you do and all the little ones… Plus heated seats. An option that is super amazing in the winter.
The back seats are spacious in head-room and the leg-room isn’t bad with the front-seat set for my 5 feet 5 inches. I could get in and out of the back easily with room to spare for knees of taller people.
Though, it is only a 4-person car. There’s a rather uncomfortable-looking plastic bit in the center of the rear seats, so 5-person families beware.
There are airbags of plenty, so your family will be safe and sound from front and the side via curtain airbags.
The hatch offers lots of space for storage of groceries or pets, and the back seats fold down to accommodate larger items.
And, the aesthetics of the iMiEV are pleasing, the front bumper smiles at you whenever you come towards it, but the interior looks a bit too plastic. Not much money spent on the inside.
Remember, though: Cheapest EV car in America.
And that’s huge! In the last several weeks’, I’ve started seeing more and more iMiEV’s on the road – they’re cheap to purchase and cheap to power.
Having an electric motor and single-speed transmission, you’ll be propelled swiftly from stop to the speed limit – though watch yourself, these little things are zippy in normal drive mode. Luckily, the regenerative braking will help you recharge part of your battery while on the go – not much, but a little.
There are three settings to the transmission, chosen from the gear selector, are D for normal driving, Eco for battery-saving, and B for greater regenerative braking.
The rear-wheel drive is a plus, too, as it adds a little bit of fun in your daily drive as you silently propel yourself forward.
Other than that, the iMiEV is rather spartan. The interior, while nice, isn’t luxuriant. The USB is a nice touch (though not in the model I drove), and the speakers are great, but there’s no Sirius radio or bluetooth connectivity.
Then again, it’s marketed as America’s Cheapest Electric Vehicle, so for the price, you’re getting a car with zero emissions and all the eco-friendliness you can handle.
The big question is charge versus range. Don’t be fooled by the MPG equivelancy (MPGe); that’s based off an equation to help consumers understand the amount of power used compared to a gas vehicle. What you want to pay attention to is range, which is about 60 miles for the iMiEV.
It charges quickly and cheaply around town at any of the many DC level 3 charging stations (my favorites are the Blink! at Fred Meyer stores) where one can charge a nearly dead battery to 80 percent in around 30 minutes. At home and on a normal, grounded wall outlet, it can take around 20 hours for charging a dead battery to full.
So, if you want to lower your carbon footprint but not spend your life’s savings, then head over to Mitsubishi and get yourself an iMiEV.