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We Drive Mitsubishi's i-MiEV Electric Car

Perhaps the most remarkable thing about the Mitsubishi i-MiEV is that it is so unremarkable. It is a fully electric vehicle but more importantly, it is a compact hatchback that can transport four adults practical distances in comfort, after just a few hours of charging.

by Nicholas Vinen

Do you think that practical electric cars are still in the future? We had a ride in this one which has already been in use on Sydney’s streets for a few months. It is being evaluated by Roche Pharmaceuticals Australia, on a special lease from Mitsubishi Motors.

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Our demo ride was organised by Malcolm Faed, whom readers may remember from the article on his electric ute conversion (SILICON CHIP, June 2009).

Besides the lack of engine noise and the large lettering advertising the fact, you would be hard-pressed to tell that it is an electric car. Acceleration is comparable to that of a petrol engine of around 1.3L, as is typical for cars of this size.

All the usual accessories are present: air conditioner, heater, radio and CD player, satellite navigation, anti-skid power brakes, power-assisted steering, HID headlights, keyless entry and so on.

Other than to say that performance is perfectly adequate, two facts that you need to know about this car is its range (around 100km) and its charging time, seven hours from a standard 230VAC 15A mains outlet or under an hour with an external 3-phase 50kW quick charger. For most city commuters, these figures make it a practical proposition.

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Riding in it for the first time, we noted good visibility all-around and a small turning circle. Internal space is adequate, with sufficient headroom for all but the tallest occupants although leg room is restricted. The boot is small but will fit a large suitcase or several bags of groceries.

Mitsubishi have put in some nice touches such as motorised folding side-mirrors and a windscreen washer system which sprays water on the windshield from the single large articulated wiper arm. The dash is uncluttered and is dominated by the digital speedometer, battery gauge and large navigation/radio control screen in the centre.

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