Interview with Laura Arbios, Product Specialist for
LOS ANGELES --
Motors renamed its MiEV electric vehicle to be called simply "I."
It was introduced on the second media day at the 2010 Los Angeles
Auto Show. The "I" is a five-door hatchback electric car
with a range of 100 miles in Japan or 75 miles in the United States.
It was launched for fleet customers in July 2009 and on April 1,
2010 for the rest of the public. Sales in the U.S. should begin
in November 2011 with a starting price of $30,000, before any state
or federal incentives. The "I" is equipped with a 64 hp
The Mitsubishi MiEV concept
was first introduced in 2006. The production version came out in
2009. The name remains the same in Japan and in Europe, however
it was shortened to just the "I" for the United States
and Canadian markets, powered by MiEV technology.
"This car can be
charged three different ways, there's also three different driving
modes," said Laura Arbios, a product specialist at Mitsubishi
Motors. "You can charge on a 110-outlet, a 220 or a 440 direct
current. The 110 gets you a charge in about 12 hours, 220 gets you
a charge in about six, the DC gets you an 80 percent charge in about
The "I" is
a completely electric vehicle. It has no on-board charger or gas
tank whatsoever. That also means it produces zero emissions.
"The options are
the same as all of our other vehicles," Arbios added. "The
Navi, the Fuse, those will all be options when it comes to market.
It fits four adults comfortably. You should check out the back seat.
It's a lot roomier than you think. It's got electric windows, air,
heat, things like that, heated seats."
The product specialist
says the Mitsubishi "I" is unique in many different ways
from its competitors.
"People are talking
a lot about the Nissan LEAF," she explained. "That car
is a bit larger. Our car is more of a mini, microcar. Size wise,
it's a lot smaller even though you can fit four adults. Ours has
a 16 kilowatt battery as supposed to the Nissan's, which is 24 kilowatts.
The difference is they will get more range, but they also have a
bigger, heavier car. On a 110, their battery takes 20 hours to charge,
where ours only takes 12. It's a little bit smaller scale. I think
it's more easily manueverable. We've got a 15-foot turning radius."
The "I" will
be rolled out in three different stages across the U.S. It will
be available in California, Oregon, Washington and Hawaii in November
2011. By March 2012, the "I" will be on sale in the Northeast.
Meanwhile, it will be available for purchase by the entire country
at the end of 2012.
The total cost is $30,000
before any federal, state tax incentives. The federal government
is offering a $7,500 tax break right now.
The Mitsubishi "I"
can be used with the DC fast charge station for an additional $300.
That allows the vehicle to be charged up to 80 percent in about
20 minutes. However, those who don't want that feature can subtract
it from the total cost of the vehicle.
"You can plug-in
while you're at the movie or at the grocery store," the product
specialist added. "In about five minutes, you get all you need
to be able to do that extra errand on your way home. You don't need
a full charge. You just need five or ten minutes on the quick charge
and then you can run that extra errand and get home. Then, that's
when you get your full charge overnight. It's a pretty easy car
I think the "I"
looks cool -- it reminded me of a smart car. The "I" is
perfect for short trips to the grocery store or going to work or
school. I do not think it is a good vehicle for long distance road
trips, simply because there isn't enough space. It is being priced
at about the same price as the Nissan LEAF. Look for the "I"
at Mitsubishi dealers in about a year or two.