Electric Mitsubishi i-MiEV to cost more than £33kHeavy price to pay for zero-emissions motoring

26 March 2010

Mitsubishi i-MiEV

Electric Mitsubishi i-MiEV is pricier than we expected 

Mitsubishi has finally announced the pricing for its all-electric i-MiEV city car. Perhaps you should be sitting down...

The Mitsubishi i-MiEV is a fully homologated production version of the regular four-seater Mitsubishi i city car. But whereas that car used a conventional petrol engine and cost around £10k, this version uses a set of lithium ion batteries and a 47kw electric motor to provide emissions-free urban motoring and costs, er..., £38,699.

Government grant doesn't come close to providing an incentive

Even with a £5,000 Government Consumer Incentive Scheme grant (available against the price of qualifying electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles in 2011), the i-MiEV will still cost £33,699.

That’s nearly £2,000 more than a BMW 330d SE, £11,000 more than an entry-level and more than three times the price of a Smart ForTwo cdi.

Ownership advantages

Horribly expensive yes, but consider the running costs. Mitsubishi claims the i-MiEV will set you back just £115 in ‘juice’ over 12,000 miles, with each full charge lasting for around 80 miles and costing just 96p in electricity.

Other advantages to Mitsubishi i-MiEV ownership include low servicing costs (the motor has only four moving parts, compared with more than 300 in a typical internal combustion engine); road tax exemption; a reduced rate of VAT for domestic electricity; congestion charge exemption and free parking in many areas of London and other cities.

Meanwhile fleet and business users will benefit from first year capital allowances and zero benefit-in-kind company car tax. Mitsubishi also expects residual values to remain impressively high, since it believes demand is unlikely to keep up with supply ‘for several years to come’.

Mitsubishi i-MiEV 2

UK sales are expected to start in January 2011

Mitsubishi bullish about success

Mitsubishi Motors UK's managing director, Lance Bradley, said: ‘These are exciting times for the motor industry in the UK. This is the biggest change in the automotive industry since it began some one hundred years ago, so to be able to offer our zero emissions car for this price is a truly great achievement.’

Well, we’ll see. But despite the seemingly steep pricing, Mitsubishi is bullish about its chances of success, rightly pointing out that unlike other soon-to-market electric vehicles - such as the Nissan Leaf - the i-MiEV is already well-proven in real world trials.

Speaking to Which? Car the company confirmed it plans to sell 500 i-MiEVs in the first year, with more production capacity available if required. A dedicated Mitsubishi Electric Vehicle Centre opened in London a month ago, and has already received 150 enquiries from business and private customers.

What do you get for the money?

The i-MiEV is certainly an eye-catching design (no pun intended), and will have full European Type Approval by the time it arrives here in January 2011.

A full charge takes just six hours using a regular 240-volt 13-amp socket, while 80% battery capacity can be achieved in just 30 minutes thanks to the onboard ‘rapid charger’. Top speed is rated at 81mph, servicing intervals are 12 months/12,500 miles, and the i-MiEV is sold with a three-year warranty.

It has just one gear, due to the electric motor drive, and produces no direct emissions at all (discounting those generated by the electricity supply used to recharge its batteries). There is also an ‘Energy-saving’ driving mode that reduces motor power to 18kw to make the battery last longer.

Standard equipment includes alloy wheels, air conditioning and six airbags. A range of ‘environmentally friendly and premium’ options offered includes biodegradable bamboo fibre floor mats, custom leather interiors and exterior graphic packs, such as the Union Jack motif in our pictures.

Peugeot and Citroen will both sell their own versions of the Mitsubishi i-MiEV soon, named iOn and C-Zero, respectively. We are expecting prices to be similarly steep.

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