Mitsubishi i? or Mitsubishi i-MiEV?
There’s been much confusion over the name of Mitsubishi’s electric vehicle. It was first introduced as the Mitsubishi i-MiEV (Mitsubishi Innovative Electric Vehicle), and now the media is largely referring to it as simply the Mitsubishi i.
The Mitsubishi i is a kei car (Japanese category of small vehicles), first released by Mitsubishi Motors in January 2006. It has a 660cc engine located behind the passengers, much like the Smart Cars here in North America.
The Mitsubishi i exceeded sales targets by 20 percent and won thirteen awards in it’s first year. The Mitsubishi i was only available in Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong and New Zealand, and was introduced to the United Kingdom in 2007.
In 2009, the Mitsubishi i-Miev (Mitsubishi innovative Electric Vehicle) was launched in Japan for fleet customers. The i-Miev was an electric version of the popular Mitsubishi i.
Around the world the Mitsubishi i-Miev is called just that – the i-Miev. This is to differentiate the i-Miev from the gasoline/diesel powered Mitsubishi i.
However, in North America the gasoline powered Mitsubishi i was never available – thus Mitsubishi has decided to call the i-Miev simply the i. During the LA auto Show, when the American version of the Mitsubishi i was revealed, several sources reported that Mitsubishi decided to drop the MiEV from the name and call the US version the ‘i electric vehicle’.
The US version of the Mitsubishi i is larger than the Japanese version of the i and i-Miev. It has redesigned bumpers and includes more versions than the Japanese and European versions in order to meet crash standards and US customer’s preferences.
To further add to the confusion, when the Mitsubishi i-Miev is launched in Canada in late 2011, Mitsubishi is sticking with the full i-Miev name, and the Canadian i-Miev will be the same size as the international Mitsubishi i-Miev, not the larger US Mitsubishi i.