back to article Mitsubishi iMiEV five-door e-car

Much midnight oil was burnt at Register Hardware while deciding just when and with what we should begin our Leccy Tech car tests. Try as we might, we just couldn't convince ourselves that battery powered quadbikes like the G-Wiz or Think City were the place to start. Nor could we rustle up much enthusiasm for third-party …

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WTF?

Chichester to Stroud?

I'm buying one tomorrow if you get that kind of range.

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Hmm

I glad that it drives properly, but I'm not sold on the looks.

And of course, there are the issues of charging and where the electricity is coming from, which always get brought up whenever electric cars are mentioned, but I think that if I were looking for a commuter car for urban driving, I'd consider one.

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Charging gauge

'We asked Mitsubishi why the charge gauge can't be set to show the remaining battery capacity in terms of miles available to drive rather than just as a simple 'fuel gauge' and was told that getting such a system to show the remaining range with any degree of accuracy was extremely difficult due to the impact that driving style and terrain can have on effective range.'

They have a point that this could be complex and confusing. Unless you continue using more or less the same power for the rest of your journey, the results could be about as useful as the Windows file copy dialog. 'Distance remaining 7 miles... ...245 yards... ...1 astronomical unit...'

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Go

I like!

Thankfully a sensible dash - minimalist and energy saving! neon lighting all ofer the car interior and giant LCD displays are the last place i want my precious electicity going!!!

as this is based on a current petrol car, it would be interesting to see the price comparison between one of these and the IC equivelent - purcase price, cost per mile in fuel and the recyling cost, both in money and CO2 :)

If I had an unlimited supply of cash and lived in a city, with a garage at home, then Id quite fancy one of these...

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Sounds pretty positive

Sounds really good - and I have the advantage of living somewhere where (at the moment) parking places with re-charge points are FOC - so this would pay for itself quite quickly. I also drive over a mountain on my commute (1 in 8) so that B mode might be quite handy. The only downside is the lack of boot space. I carry around a LOT of equipment in the boot. Yes, I could fold down the rear seats but then, on the odd occasion I run one of the kids around, I'd have to re-arrange things and I'm VERY lazy.

Still, if this is the first proper electric car, the only way is up!

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Here comes the future!

Sounds good to me. But 2011.. why? Sooner they get made and sold the sooner the price can come down..

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Dead Vulture

Steel?

I think you'll find that it's actually made out of good old fashioned Aluminium like the iCar.

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(Written by Reg staff)

@Frank Bough

According to Mitsubishi UK's iMiEV Product Manager, the chassis is aluminium, but the body panels are steel.

While we're at it, the i-car has been sold in the UK - some 600 or so were brought over on a one-off basis - but isn't any longer.

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Stop

Extend the performance.

...dump the pig iron .... use aluminium and modern composites.

it's a simple power to weight ratio thing, not hard.

Still nice to keep something from the 19th century....

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Seems promising, even on cost

The high initial cost was mentioned. I think a 5-year (or even 10-year) total cost of ownership analysis would be useful. Remember, a fully electric car also doesn't need oil changes, air filters, tune-ups, fuel filters, injector cleanings, etc etc needed by fueled engines (including hybrids).

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Happy

I want one!

Never thought I'd say it but I'd take one of these today if I had the cash. Not bothered by the "green" credentials, just interested in the acceleration, handling, decent amount of meatspace and low-low-low cost per mile. I'm guessing that maintenance is going to be significantly easier/cheaper as well with moving parts being 10 times less than in the petrol version.

My commute is a 30 mile roundtrip through twisty Somerset roads so I would really enjoy the ride and not spare the electrons.

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Go

Carbon savings

Even if fossil fuels need to be burnt to generate the electricity to run a car like this, it will be better for the environment than burning fossil fuels to run the car directly. Why? Because large-scale, stationary power plants can achieve far greater efficiency and can be fitted with pollution-mitigating (and possibly carbon-capture) devices far more easily than can, say, an individual automobile.

Of course, for those like me that live in Quebec where we have more hydroelectricity than just about anywhere on Earth, it's even better. I wonder if it could stand up to a Quebec winter, though, or for that matter a Montreal spring: we get many, many vicious potholes which could probably swallow that car whole!

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WTF?

Mystery route

You drove the thing WHERE? Don't think the A419 runs between Chichester and Stroud. You mention Chichester twice - don't you mean Cirencester?

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Fun to drive?

Do you have to do a dot-to-dot to start the engine?!

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WTF?

@Mike Ball

The 419 sure as shit doesn't run along this mystery route (and a Chichester to Stroud run would be far more than 48 miles). Must be Cirencester, not all that far from me

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Dead Vulture

@Tony Smith

"According to Mitsubishi UK's iMiEV Product Manager, the chassis is aluminium, but the body panels are steel."

You DO realise that the 'chassis' (ie the monocoque) is the major part of the car, and that the body panels are not ALL steel? There are plenty of steel monocoque cars that have some aluminium body panels - Mazda RX-8 is an example, but you'd definitely describe that as a steel car.

As for the iCar no longer being sold, that's only happened VERY recently and I can confirm that my dealership still sells them, and has done for some time now...

...and the iCar was ALWAYS designed to have an electric propulsion system, that's why it seems so advanced compared to the retro-fit alternatives.

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Bronze badge

@ Murray Pearson

...An interesting point... I live a bit south of you, in the northeast U.S., and our winters don't get quite as... brisk... as yours. I wonder what happens to battery capacity on -20º C mornings?

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Joke

"The instrument binnacle has been designed to be as twit proof as possible."

It's good to see that they're catering to the target audience.

On a more serious note, I'd say that this part deserves a comment: "... you'll be looking at something between £20,000 and £25,000. That's a lot for a small car. Then again, new technology has always demanded a premium. Mobile phones, laptops - you name it and the first ones cost an arm and a leg." Not quite, since we already have proper cars. If we're to draw such parallels, this is more like a solar powered netbook, with all the joys of the existing ones, such as cramped screens and keyboards, performance that's "good enough for ordinary everyday uses" and autonomy of the models with 4-cell batteries, combined with it's taking several times longer than the regular ones to recharge the battery and costing about as much as a MacBook Pro being released to the current market.

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Alert

...esters etc

Apologies to all for getting my Chichesters and Cirencesters mixed up, As has been pointed out a trip between the former and Stroud would have been quite some achievement on a single charge.

@ Frank Bough. When it comes to information such as the 'i' not being available in the UK we are rather dependent on what Mitsubishi UK tell us. The car may well be available as a grey import but it is not available as official Mitsubishi UK product.

My comment about the car being made of steel was simply meant to differentiate the iMiEV with its steel body panels and aluminium chassis from the likes of the G-Wiz. It wasn't intended as a detailed technical description of the car's construction.

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Paris Hilton

They can't count

Have a look at the last item on http://www.mitsubishi-motors.com/special/ev/4innovations/index.html

See if you can spot 'three types of battery charging systems'. I can only make it 3 if you count home and car-park use of the low current flex as two completely separate systems.

Why stop at three, then? I can plug it in with an extension through my living room window, in my shed, at my auntie Violet's, at work, on a customer site, and (using an adaptor) by shinning up a lamp post or jacking into the light in a phone box. That's seven, and I still havn't counted this entirely fictitious plughole in a car park yet.

if they can't even /count/ why should we believe any of the other nonsense about range, speed, battery life?

Paris, 'cos she probably has trouble counting to more than two as well.

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On Sale

Are you sure the I-Car wasn't on sale in the UK? I remember test driving it the middle of last year?

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One question

Does it have a heater?

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(Written by Reg staff)

@Will 22

Of course it has a heater. You'll be asking if it has wheels next...

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Pint

@ Tony Smith

I'm not trying to be disingenuous.

Just wondering how (A) The heat exchange works. Internal combustion cars pass the air over the hot exhaust unless they have air-con plants installed. Being a leccy car I'd assume that it's some form of electric fan heater which segues nicely into (B) What effect does running the heater have on range?

I'm thinking specifically of those quintessentially British mornings where frost and maybe snow have been forecasted for days but when it comes we're all unprepared, the country grinds to a halt and newspapers print photos of Day After Tomorrow style snowdrifts along with suitably apocalyptic headlines.

It's purely an engineering question. Here, have a Monday beer. I won't tell if you don't.

Now, those round things at the corners...

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Paris Hilton

Want!

I city drive about 40 miles through the depths and suburbs of west/south London each day and my large fuel guzzling car is comfortable but I'd love to have one of these to do the job instead. Perhaps the landlord of the office would let me charge it outside the office to save me installing an exterior socket at home? Or perhaps a home solar charging canopy is in order to charge up a set of batteries at home, then when you return home you dump the charge using the 'fast charge port'. Solar cells aren't environmentally friendly but could give a superficial warm fuzzy glow inside.

One thing I've noticed about EVs so far is that it doesn't seem that easy to get data on the lifetime of the batteries but the guarantee on the Mitsubishi and the fact that they have spent some heavy research Yen on developing fast charge long life batteries gives me much more confidence. £20k is a lot of money, but if they offered me one now on a decent finance plan it could replace the mostly idle Clio on my drive and I could leave the guzzler for visiting my mother outside of the range of the EV.

Ok, so Mitsubishi: feel free to contact me and arrange the delivery! I'll park it somewhere prominent and even accept the advertising paint job for the next two years!

Paris: because she'd find enough room in the back...

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wim

` Tony Smith

Electrical engines also produce heat. Not so much as a IC engine but probably still enough to heat the car.

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Alert

Heater

The car has an electric heater - which is handy for cold mornings since it comes on almost instantly - and though we haven't been able to find out what its maximum power draw is using it will naturally have an effect on range. Unfortunately with only half a day to test working out the impact the various driving styles and systems on the car's range wasn't really possible so we tried for a "worst possible" scenario by driving like a loon and running the air con pretty much constantly (which we need to due anyway to a combination of a large glass house and torrential rain).

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Thumb Down

They've missed a trick or two.

Why not give it TWO 13A charging cables, so you could recharge it off both 13A sockets of a twin outlet on a domestic ring main?

Charging at 50kw for 20 min is about the same as 3kW for 6 hours ... with two 13A flexes, and without running them flat out (so that a kettle elsewhere on the ring main doesn't overload), it should be possible to fully charge in about four hours at a little under 5kW. Which in turn makes the difference between being able to fully recharge at a friend's house in the space of an afternoon or an evening social visit, and not.

Also it needs an electricity-units-eaten display on the dash during recharge, so that it's easy to know how much reimbursement to make to the aforesaid friend (and to check that any commercial filling station isn't cheating you).

BTW for me, even with a 4-hour charge rather than 6 hours , the range isn't quite enough to make me consider it, unless I could be sure of finding a "filling" station for a 10-minute 50kw top-up as easily as I can find petrol.

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Paris Hilton

@ Robert E A Harvey

Perchance the third type of charging is the regenerative braking system? I think we can rely on MMC to be able to count...

Paris, 'cos even she could probably count to three on a good day.

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@Nigel 11

"Why not give it TWO 13A charging cables, so you could recharge it off both 13A sockets of a twin outlet on a domestic ring main?"

Because you'd need to learn about about mains standards before you did that. General rule of thumb - anything over 3kWh shouldn't be connected to the ring. A dedicated spur is required, fused directly into the distribution board.

"(and to check that any commercial filling station isn't cheating you)" Do you bring a flowmeter with your regular car to make sure that they're not currently cheating you or something?

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Electric heater - another missed trick?

You don't say whether the electric heater can be programmed to come on at a particular time in the morning, while the car is still plugged in. Or even just manually turned on, while the car is still off (or charge-filled or on standby or whatever this state is called for an e-car)

It ought to be programmable. Then, at the time you start your daily commute, your e-car is already nice and warm, and its battery is still fully charged. Otherwise, you'd start your journey in a cold car (like fossil-fuelled motorists) and lose a good fraction of the car's range making it into a warm car.

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Go

Brake mode also drive mode

Maybe you missed a trick with the B(rake?) mode. Some other leccy cars can use this mode for a slightly different kind of driving. Basically you do more with the throttle and less with the brake. It is Not a "bug" that you have to use the throttle because the engine braking is so strong in this mode, it is a "Feature"!

Basically the throttle becomes a "speed" selector, instead of just an "accelerator". So you use it to select which speed you want. Most users can go for most of the day without using the brake this way. Instead of braking you just let up on the throttle a bit, enough to get a comfortable braking force. It also means that using the throttle while going downhill, as in your article, does Not have the engine fighting the brakes (and loosing energy), rather just makes the brakes a little less "regenerative".

Once you get used to it some people find this is quite a nice way to get around. And with the potential to get better range. How this works for emergency braking I'm not sure, I guess you still have to remember to use the Real brakes in some cases...

I think Tesla had some kind of discussion about this as the amount of braking force from the regenerative brakes that drivers like is quite individual. Tesla apparently experimented with different levels but I think they settled for a lower default rate.

Similarly leccy cars can do similar tricks like "creeping" (whatever the word is, i.e. like an auto which has to be held on the brake) and hill-start functions and such. Basically a leccy can be configured with all sorts of behaviours based on driver preference. Maybe they need a Control Panel somewhere... ;-)

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Grenade

crash test

I wonder what happens in a crash - even if the passenger cell is suitably protected from an impact as the article suggests.

A recent report on the British media about an abused iPod nano exploding does bring up visions of bad things happening with a battery around 10^5 times its size.

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Paris Hilton

@article, @various

"... the power gauge, which lets you know how much charge you have left in the battery."

That would be an energy gauge, wouldn't it?

"...dump the pig iron .... use aluminium and modern composites."

"Modern composites" (if the term isn't too vague) are expensive. Way more than stamped steel (on a per-car basis). Aluminum is only somewhat more expensive (on a per-car basis assuming equal stiffness, not equal mass or equal volume).

"Does it have a heater?"

Yeah, you're more or less sitting on the batteries, so you just drive it harder and things heat right up. (Not serious.)

Paris, because I just described how the heater works.

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hideous

Why does it have to look like something out of the Jetsons? im all for economical city cars and whatnot but i used to have a little go-kart thing as a kid (those red and yellow bubble cars for anyone old enough to remember) that looked exactly like that.

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