Published on November 16th, 2012 | by Vivian Nelson Melle
iMiEV: Expressing Your Eco-Self with Mitsubishi’s Electric Car
I know, I know, people talk about electric hybrids quite often. The iMiEV, however, has no gas tank. That’s right, this baby runs solely on electricity. It’s an eco step up from a hybrid. I was given the chance to cruise around town in the i-MiEV for a few days here in Phoenix. I was able to see all the benefits and some of the complications of driving a fully electric automobile.
Keep reading to see how far electric cars have come with my review of the i-MiEV
Driving the iMiEV
Wow, this was a fun car to drive. I drive a 19-year-old GEO Tracker so the small size of the iMiEV didn’t faze me in the least. It was actually larger than my Tracker. I giggled every time I started it up and waited for the engine to sound. There was nothing but quiet. Now here’s where it became lots of fun, especially with my kid in the car. As you are driving you want to keep it in the area that says Eco. That means your car is using less energy. So it became a game and every time it went over my kid would call out and I would slow back down. I took the iMiEv down the streets and highways around Phoenix, Arizona and the drive was absolutely a pleasure. It was smooth and really wasn’t what I had in mind. I really thought the car would take longer to get up to speed and to start back up after stops. There really was no difference between other new cars except the obvious lack of sound.
Fueling the iMiEV
So what makes this little eco car stand out is its lack of a tailpipe and gas tank. It is both its highlight and it’s drawback. I know, I know, an entirely electric car should be the dream for Green Living Ideas. In a perfect world it would be. However, the rest of America isn’t entirely onboard with eco-warriors yet. So, finding charging stations was a little challenging. And let me stress, a little. We have become spoiled by gas stations standing on every corner, so to move to having to look for a charger was just out of the norm. That said, there were websites that made locating charging stations easy. Surprisingly, there are a few of them out there.
I was given cards I could use for fueling stations and there are some places, like my local Bookman’s, that offer free and simple-to-use charging. I used the Blink website to find my closest charging station which was the parking lot of a Kohl’s. I simply parked, hooked up the charger, which looks very much like a gas pump, and sat in the car enjoying my lunch. What I didn’t realize is there are pumps that quick charge offering an 80% charge in a half hour and other chargers that take up to seven hours. After a half hour I only had charged a few miles on the car. If I were closer to home it wouldn’t be a big deal, but I was 15 miles away. So, off I went to my local Bookman’s where I fueled up enough to get me home. I hung out in the book store for about 45 minutes while the care charged. The charging website I used made it seem that the Kohl’s was a quick charge and it wasn’t. As time goes by I’m sure most of the charging stations will become faster.
The Price of the iMiEV
When it comes to cars, I drive them into the dust. I keep cars forever or buy used cars and then ride them into the ground. When it comes to looking at new cars the price tag is a huge deal maker for me, as with most people. The iMiev stats at $21,625 which is quite impressive when you think of all the extra savings by not needing gas fill-ups. For fueling, you can use the drive up charging stations I mentioned or you can use your home. The iMiEv came with a home charger which has the three-prong end seen on many dryers. It’s easily and safely adaptable for most homes. You can also have your own charging station installed at your house for about $1,200. The units, home inspection and installation can be purchased through Best Buy or AeroVironment.
Overall Impression of the iMiEV
Overall, I think this car is awesome. It has everything you would want in an eco car. the downfall is simply the lack of charging stations fast enough to make it a good alternative to gas gusslers and hybrids. There were times I was scared I wouldn’t have enough fuel and where I really saw the draw of hybrids. However, the idea of only using electricity was the draw as I looked across the smog hanging over the city. I had several people ask about the car and many took down the website information when I gave the starting price. It was very thrilling to meet so many people looking for alternative fuel vehicles. One day included someone with an Obama bumper sticker and one with a Romney sticker. Man oh man, maybe alternative energy can bring the thing that brings this ol’ nation together. Also, safety is important to me so it’s important to cover that factor. The iMiEV meets all Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS) and has a six-airbag system.
Interested in the iMiEV?
Phoenix is a city not quite yet set up for the best eco-commuting. We have a light rail system with potential and a pretty fair bus line. However, the city is quite spread out. That said, if I lived downtown and wasn’t an in-home counselor, this car could totally work out. That said, I think you could find a way to make this little care work with some well thought weekly planning. If you look at it like you look at other electronics it could totally become second nature to fuel it. When you get home, plug it in and you are good to go by morning. The difficulty comes when you drive a lot during the day. Still, if it’s important enough to you, it’s doable. I really was shocked and so happy to see how many charging stations there were in Phoenix.
Please visit Mitsubishi’s website for more information. I have heard nothing but good things about their customer service as well so if you have questions, give them a call. I’d like to thank them for allowing me the eco-loaner to test drive. It was a pleasure to be able to test drive something that will help have a positive impact on the environment. If you have further questions about my test drive, let me know. I’ll try to answer them or direct you to possible answers.
What do you think, is this a vehicle you would consider purchasing? What do you look for in a vehicle, specifically, an eco-friendly vehicle?