Last month I test-drove the Nissan Leaf, today it was the chance of the Mitsubishi MiEV. Style wise it’s a bit like son of Prius, with the same raked windscreen and squared off front doors. While being a 5 door it still has a feel of being a small city car ala Smartcar. At $48,800 + orc it is quite expensive, though much cheaper than the Leaf at $60k, this is reflected in the smaller size, features and quality of finish.
The Leaf branded itself as a computer car with no ignition key and trackball controls, while the MiEV tries to be more like a conventional car, with key operated steering lock/ignition and conventional automatic selector. Opposite to the looks, the Nissan looks like any other small hatch and the Mitsubishi looks like a Smartcar.
True to the characteristics of electric motors slow speed acceleration is good, and operational noise non-existent, an issue some feel makes EV dangerous to pedestrians and cyclists. I suspect as community becomes familiar with EV this will become less of a problem. The ride is firm, but the car cannot be described as sporty. The design philosophy seems to have been cramming as much space inside a small shell and at this the MiEV is very successful, but it results in small wheels. Four friendly adults can share the car, but luggage space is small. Of course for a city car this is fine, you would not consider the MiEV for a trip to Geraldton. There is a trial in Japan using MiEVs as taxis.
The car I drove was a promo and as such the exterior finish was a bit brash, the colours that will be available to buyers are more conventional, if at the electric end of the spectrum. The information sheet for the car covers issues such as seating, storage and safety, but nothing on motor capacity or drive train.
I feel privileged to have had the chance to drive two new EV and hope they become much more commonplace (and cheaper). Remember if you choose to drive an EV you can get free city centre parking in Fro and a free charge in return for your commitment to the environment.