iMiEV vs. Competition

Mitsubishi i-MiEV Forum

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Staff member
Dec 15, 2011
Hills above Silicon Valley, California
The purpose of this thread is to provide iMiEV's owners' opinions of other EVs and why they chose the iMiEV.

First off, I'm delighted that we are now starting to see more Electric Vehicles. Here's my own abbreviated and somewhat disjointed personal take on the various electric vehicles presently on the California market:

The Leaf is a very good car - in 2010 I talked a number of friends into buying them and I've put on quite a few miles driving Leafs, but for us it is physically unnecessarily large for the function needed and with excessive internal appointments. Opulent and perhaps stodgy comes to mind. The iMiEV is much more sprightly - handling, maneuvering, visibility, and zipping in/out of parking spots make it a more suitable urban vehicle that is really fun to drive. With the back seats down, we have more room back there than a Leaf. For me, the final deciding factor was regeneration: the iMiEV has superior manual control over regen and significantly higher regen than the Leaf (without touching the brakes). The range difference between the two is inconsequential IMO and the only significant attribute of the Leaf over the iMiEV is that it legally seats five.

Coda is a nice ordinary sedan that happens to be electric. Its large battery pack should give it better range than either the Leaf or iMiEV. Not my cup of tea, but I wish them well.

Ford Focus EV - I had a chance to drive one this week. This car is a joke: in attempting to make it 'feel' like an ordinary car, they've dumbed-down the driver interface so it provides negligible EV-specific instrumentation and its two manual levels of regeneration are mild and super-mild. The trunk size is a cruel hoax due to the battery placement there. Yes, it accelerates well and handles fine. I definitely wouldn't buy one.

Honda Fit EV - you can't buy one (only lease), which is why I didn't wait for this EV and instead bought my iMiEV. It's my understanding that only a couple of thousand are being made available and supposedly Honda isn't getting into the EV market for now. The Fit EV is physically larger than the iMiEV. It provides an even better driving experience than the iMiEV: great acceleration and handling, more drive modes, and great regen. Its better aerodynamics and larger battery pack translate into better range than the iMiEV, especially at highway speeds. I like it, but you can't buy it and I've talked with a few heartbroken EV1 drivers so I wouldn't want a repeat…

Tesla S - wonderful car, but physically too large for us and above my pay grade. No manual control over regen (you have to pre-program one of two modes). I really hope they succeed. It's a wonderful example to point at if anyone has EV range concerns.

Toyota new RAV4EV SUV - I didn't even take a test drive because I already own a SUV (1988 Isuzu Trooper) which is only used for hauling and towing a large boat long distances or for going to the snow in winter. Also my understanding is that the RAV4EV SUV is very limited production,. A Tesla SUV is in the works.

Think, Wheego, Smart ED, - can't carry a bicycle (inside). The Toyota Scion IQ EV is not for sale, despite the dangling carrot a couple of years ago. Each of these I suspect would be great secondary cars.

We are so happy we didn't wait with our purchase and have had the iMiEV grin for the last ten months and almost 9000 petrol-free miles. It has definitely become the primary vehicle in our family. Disclaimer: I have absolutely no connection with Mitsubishi.

Background: I've been an auto enthusiast all my life and, in addition to a couple of Gen1 Honda Insights (our long-distance cars), presently own six electric vehicles: the iMiEV, two Corbin Sparrows (still daily-drivers, but my wife now uses the iMiEV), an old small Dodge/Mitsu pickup EV conversion for yukky short-hauls, a 1965 Saab EV conversion (undergoing battery upgrade), and an electric scooter. We very carefully chose the iMiEV after surveying the available and potential vehicles - in a nutshell, we haven't been disappointed and absolutely love our little Mitsi.
I bought the iMiEV after considering most of the others because it is the smallest, lightest, most efficient, longest range, least expensive, most practical commercially made 4 passenger vehicle of it's kind out there . . . . and it still is. It didn't hurt that it's also fun to drive and I LIKE the look of it

True, there are many other vehicles which out-do it in one manner or other, but only the iMiEV combines it all IMO. It has half a dozen little nit-picky things that could be better, but then it has dozens of things I love about it - Many plusses and few minuses

In New Mexico, our only real options for this year have been the Leaf and i-MiEV.

There was nothing about the Leaf that made me want to pay the extra $7k+ (the delta was that high because I insisted on Level 3 charge capability and little else, and Mitsu offers CHAdeMO as a moderately priced option on their lowest trim level, as opposed to Nissan's strategy of limiting it to the SL trim level bundle). As time went on and I was having problems getting my i-MiEV shipped in, I seriously considered getting a Leaf, but by then the bad battery stories were starting to mount in AZ. I think what really bothered me about that, aside from the raw fact that the Leaf's batteries were failing so badly under certain conditions, was Nissan's botched multi-tier multi-week response to the crisis.

Ford mystifies me. The Focus-E would appear well-suited for nobody but car reviewers who don't have to live with its high price and limited cargo space. While Ford proudly asserts that they've cleverly beat the cost problem by using a common "glider" with the mass-market Focus, allowing them to flexibly manufacture whatever volumes are needed to match demand, this version of reality runs up against the rocks of the Focus-E's $40k price tag, making it the priciest non-luxury EV currently available.

The Smart ED is interesting, but I didn't want to wait for it, and prefer to have a back seat and usable trunk (or no back seat and freakin' enormous cargo bay). Extra points for the convertible, though - this is a 2nd car, after all, so why not have fun with it?

While Chevy's Spark is also promising, GM's (probably necessary) reluctance to provide pricing information means the jury's still out on this one.
Why the I Miev ?

For us - in short form - in order of importance

1) Full Electric Vehicle -We wanted to be as green as possible driving a vehicle and the Miev offered a step ahead of a hybrid.

2) The Price - Having kept 4 years of complete real world records of expenses of our ICE, The Miev made financial sense with the aid of government financial assistance program.

3) Availability - The only EV's available to us were the Leaf and the Miev and the Leaf's were sold out until 2013.

4) Brand Trust - I had a history owning several Mitsubishis previously and trust the brand & dealers network

5) Vehicle Characteristics - The Miev's overall size, Passenger & Cargo space, High sitting , & Great visibility are perfect for our needs
Most of the EVs available are simply compliance cars, only a handful are real.

The more I live with the i-MiEV the more I realize that Mitsubishi got it spot on right out the door. I actually have no complaints about this car at all, absolutely nothing irks me enough to think I should have bought something else. Usually, for months after a vehicle purchase I'll second guess myself thinking I should have bought something else. But, not with the i-MiEV - I am so thoroughly happy with this car, that I have not thought of another purchase that I would have liked better. I don't even mind the button that changes the instrumentation view, I find it quite easy to slip my hand behind the steering wheel and see the other displays, very easy. The three-blink lane change feature is downright genius, I love it. Auto headlights, fantastic - I'm lazy and I like things like this. The plastic door panels, these are the best for kids and dogs - easy clean!

I agree totally with JoeS's evaluation of the Leaf. I test drove it and seriously considered it before the i-MiEV became available, but once I drove the i-MiEV - the Leaf was off my list. The i-MiEV is so much more fun to drive and has much more usable cargo space than the Leaf. The super efficient motor and electronics is amazing, beats most of the EVs available. The range is a non-issue, and I drive it to Buffalo everyday - 43km each way. That is spin anyway, to scare people away from buying EVs.

I just don't understand why Mitsubishi is not trying harder to sell these cars. Its like they are creating a self-fulfilling prophecy that EVs aren't sellable. I think if they created a marketing plan that showed real people that drive these cars and shared their stories about how practical the EV is - they would sell a lot more.
MLucas said:
I just don't understand why Mitsubishi is not trying harder to sell these cars. Its like they are creating a self-fulfilling prophecy that EVs aren't sellable. I think if they created a marketing plan that showed real people that drive these cars and shared their stories about how practical the EV is - they would sell a lot more.
I'm pretty mystified by this myself. I haven't been able to square the following:

1) Mitsubishi loudly proclaims their commitment to electrification and plans for selling i-MiEVs in the U.S. by the thousands.

2) Mitsubishi makes absolutely no effort to advertise or promote the i-MiEV, not even showing it in their "Unpretentious" brand-awareness campaign. Most people I talk to have no idea the car exists until they see mine.

3) Mitsubishi expresses disappointment over low U.S. i-MiEV sales.

Unless Mitsu's just lying about #1 and wants to drive MLucas's hypothetical self-fulfilling prophecy about EVs being doomed, I don't understand their behavior. I've read some stories suggesting that Nissan's aggressive pricing on the Leaf forced Mitsubishi to sell the i in the U.S. at lower prices (and profits) than intended. If they're really losing money on every i-MiEV sold in the U.S. (at least until they can make some adjustments), I suppose the car can be regarded as a placeholder that they'd prefer not to move in any numbers.

Otherwise, I think if Mitsu did a modest TV campaign using the Volt's "our customers love our cars" approach, it could definitely grab some attention. I've been driving my i-MiEV for over two months now, and I do love it. I'm so glad I didn't give in to the temptation of those low-cost Leaf and/or Volt leases - the i-MiEV is exactly what I wanted, and I know that because I bought it, I can keep it instead of being forced to surrender it when the lease runs out.
I have read in a german weekly (Der Spiegel) that Peugeot dealership does not indend to sell the Ion. I have visited one of them and he was willing to help me charging from CEE 400V/16A or CEE 400V/32A in his garage. His Schuko installation was too weak for 230V/16A.

I have seen Citroen Zero at their shops but except for the show case they seem not interested.

My dealer has ordered another i-MiEV for his shop but he wont get it before spring next year and we have bought our car more than 3 month ago.

I have heard from a dealer that he has sold some 16 Citroen Twizy but I'd say that is rather a golf car, no windows, some of them with doors others without.

Next week I am going to join a meeting discussing electro mobility and public charging points. Maybe I can help them pointing at some public power sockets in Caravan Parks e.g.
Why did I buy the i-MiEV and not the competition?

Like others who've posted, I really only considered the LEAF and the i-MiEV. Not having the funds to buy a Tesla, unfortunately :p

Why not the Volt? I'd been driving a pure EV (ZAP Xebra) since 2007, so a Volt would be a step backwards in one sense- reverting to a hybrid. Also, the Volt, at $40k plus was out of reach.

Likewise, the LEAF, at about $36k in SV trim, was too much of a stretch for my wallet. The Mitsubishi, in ES trim level without the quick charge port was barely $30k sticker and I brought it home for a little less than $30k. Even that was a stretch, but I could justify it.

I did test drive both the LEAF and the i, figuring I needed to compare to something other than my 3-wheel ZAP.

In the test drive, I found the LEAF felt heavy and not as responsive as the i-MiEV. It may be more powerful than the Mitsubishi, but seat-of-the-pants feel is really no different off the line. As far as handling, the LEAF stays put a little better with less body lean, but plows in corners, feeling heavy as opposed to light and easy for the MItsu.

I liked the level and feel of interior trim in the LEAF much better than than the i, but absolutely was turned off by the "Starship Enterprise" feel of all the digital instrumentation. When you need to have a configurable "bootup" sound, I consider that too much.

I LOVE the very simple instruments and controls in the MiEV. It may be too spartan for some, but I think it hearkens back to my old air-cooled VW's- nothing is there that isn't needed. Likewise the controls on the MiEV, right down to the shift lever- simple is good (I joked that the shifter in the LEAF looks like someone stuck a Labatt's Blue beer can into the console and expected me to shift with it :D )

If there was anything in the LEAF I couldn't live without, I can't think of it. I did spend a little money after the fact to have the USB port installed so I could listen to something else on the sound system.

I'm coming up on 4000 miles in the Mitsubishi since the end of June and I'm very happy so far.

Like alot of others it was the i or the leaf for me.

I have to admit that my first impression was the i looked a lot more like a toy car then the leaf when I first saw it. But after driving it and seeing the premium trim package it settled in my mind as a really decent car.

Also the imiev was first to market in my area before the leaf so I never actually drove a leaf but I did get a chance to see one in detail at my local Nissan dealer. I did drive a Ford Focus on a short ride during an awareness campaign at a shopping mall.

In the end the price difference was part of it the big cargo hold was another part also. After driving the focus and seeing how much power it (and how much trunk it had not) had I thought it just didn't make sense to put such a powerful motor in an EV.

For me an EV is all about driving eco. The i seemed to have that in much better balance then the leaf or focus. I mean whats the use of having loads of power if you can't really drive the car like that for a reasonable range. It's nice to satisfy that urge to stomp on it and have some fun but as long as the car can keep up with traffic nicely that's all you really need. (I also did find the second life that the imiev has at 50 km/h really fun to stomp on.)

It reminds me of this Chevy volt thing of " I never buy gas"... so then why do you have an engine ?

So after some thought and investigation the i seemed to be the best of the 2(i/leaf)

The only thing I had to get over was the traditional thinking that I spent a lot of money on a new car so It should be big/heavy/fast/impressive and really well appointed. It's hard to let those things go when your buying a car but when your buying an EV you have to trade them for all the great things an EV brings to the table (unless your getting a Tesla which is a great car. Maybe i'll get a used one in a few years....)

In the end our family is used to the i and love it so much that like many of you our Ice car sits in the driveway like an old dog most of the time waiting for the i to run out of power so it can go out for a run.

Looking at the Leaf, I really only have feature-envy over the heated seats. Things get pretty cold in the winter, and given the range drain when the heater's blasting, it'd be nice to at least have a heated passenger seat. That said, I ordered a 12-volt seat warmer from Amazon for $15, so if that works out I'll only have a problem when transporting three or four people. (The Leaf's fifth middle seat is also nice, but in no way something I'd use often.)

Car Wings would also be nice if (a) I left the car at an airport parking garage for a long trip and wanted to manage charging, or (b) I parked the car downtown, several blocks from away, and needed to start pre-heating/pre-cooling.

However, the i-MiEV had several things going for it:

1. Sound system — I'm a big music lover, and the i-MiEV's clever design points the front speakers forward, rather than up or sideways like a lot of other cars do. The sound is much more clear and defined than most cars, Leaf included.

2. Cargo space — I was looking at the 2012 Leaf, so it had that huge bar all the way across the border between the rear seats and the rear storage area. I later looked at the 2013 with my girlfriend, and while it's better, it still has humps on each side and a step-up at the folded down seats.

3. The look — I know a lot of people like cars that look "normal," but I like the i's cute, goofy look. It's also part of the…

4. Fun — During my test drive, I didn't fully realize how fun it was to drive, but it's definitely a factor for my satisfaction now. Maneuvering around corners and zipping around town gives me more pleasure than I've ever had driving.

5. Price — It certainly helped that I was able to get such a nice deal on the car. My Nissan dealerships were pretty much done with their sell-off prices on the 2012s, and the missing features weren't worth the extra money, especially when considering the i-MiEV advantages.
nsps said:
Looking at the Leaf, I really only have feature-envy over the heated seats. Things get pretty cold in the winter, and given the range drain when the heater's blasting, it'd be nice to at least have a heated passenger seat.
Was confused, but am now wondering; did you get the cold weather package but wish it also included a heated passenger seat? I've never felt the need for such, but my wife loves it...
jray3 said:
nsps said:
Looking at the Leaf, I really only have feature-envy over the heated seats. Things get pretty cold in the winter, and given the range drain when the heater's blasting, it'd be nice to at least have a heated passenger seat.
Was confused, but am now wondering; did you get the cold weather package but wish it also included a heated passenger seat? I've never felt the need for such, but my wife loves it...

Yes, sorry, I meant to say heated seats apart from the driver seat. All the i-MiEVs in the Salt Lake City area are cold package or premium package (which includes the cold package). If I have a passenger in my car, I don't want them to freeze while I stay warm. But like I said, I ordered an aftermarket 12-volt seat warmer, so at least my front passenger will be OK.
As you can read about in the "What's everybody paying?" thread, many of us got Leases that were too good to pass up. I believe the dealer in NJ that I got mine from managed to lease about 10 to people at a price under $99/mo. I didn't count how many people on this forum are in that situation, but there are a few of us.

For me the price was the clincher by far in my decision. I was skeptical upon picking it up but have been happily surprised at how much I enjoy it.
@benswing: I share your initial skepticism. I needed some $$$ because of our new baby coming, so I traded in my car, using part of the trade-in for TT&L and cashed out the rest. I wasn't sure how I would like a "base" ES, but I was willing to sacrifice for my new baby. I was pleasantly surprised how much I've enjoyed this vehicle. Being able to keep up with an Infinity G37s tonight from a light was just the cherry on top. :cool:
We have a Nissan Leaf and not an IMiEV. After test driving the IMiEV, I find the Leaf to be substantially nicer. That being said, everybody's needs are different and I liked the IMiEV more than I thought I would. I feel like the website reviews for the IMiEV are way too negative. I could see that the iMiEV makes a ton of sense for the broader markets in Europe and Japan where tiny cars are the norm. Comparing the IMiEV against the Tesla Model S doesn't make sense. I've driven the 85kWh non-performance Model S. It's a stunning accomplishment.
jz1 said:
I've driven the 85kWh non-performance Model S.
I cannot overstate how jealous I am of you. :D

Having driven the LEAF on a drive event, I would have to agree with you. Even as an i-MiEV owner. The i-MiEV just presented itself exactly when I needed it and at the price I needed it to be. That being said, after my 2-year lease is up, I hope Mitsubishi has something all-electric like this available:


I really like some of the things on the i-MiEV better, like its more-adjustable regen, than the LEAF, but I just wish the i-MiEV was a little more substantial car. Taking a corner at medium speed and hitting a bump makes for a very unsettled suspension.
Time to update this thread with my admittedly-biased perspective:

From a daily urban usability perspective, I still consider the Ford Focus Electric lacking, with the encroachment by the battery into the trunk space yielding a tiny trunk. It has a claustrophobic feeling inside compared to the airiness and easy ingress/egress of the iMiEV. Some like it looks, it has decent acceleration, and handles reasonably, but the poor utilization of its footprint for a short-range urban vehicle with no Quick Charge still has me personally avoiding it.

The SmartED is a cute car, and overall quite similar to our iMiEV but without our cavernous storage volume. It's fantastic for squeezing into parking spots, has a highly-touted protective cage around the occupants, and what I find especially attractive is the paddle regen option with multiple settings whereby one of the settings allows for coasting. With a bit more range than the iMiEV, it suffers from not having a Quick Charge option.

The Chevrolet Spark EV is a bigger car than our iMiEV that feels much smaller. It is MUCH more powerful with torque significantly affecting its FWD steering (which I don't mind as I'm used to it from my old Saab). Its instrumentation has some of the latest gee-whiz effects but with cutesy graphics which infuriating convey no quantitative information. Regen in D is very low but their other shift setting is ok and could provide even more regen IMO. Folding the back seats down doesn't result in a flat floor like our iMiEV, with much less total volume. It feels cramped inside compared to our iMiEV. It's presently a compliance car available only in California and Oregon. Range is much better than the iMiEV, but it doesn't have CHAdeMO (or CCS, yet). For the significantly higher price than the upcoming 2014 iMiEV, I just don't see it as viable compared to our iMiEV.

I haven't driven a Fiat 500E yet, so can't comment much yet. Yes, it's cute. Sat in one at a car show and disappointed to see only a single Drive shift position. Even with the back seats down (not flat), it has little volume back there. Once again, no Quick Charge option. Range is much better than the iMiEV.

Looking forward to seeing the BMW i3, but it's price will be a deterrent for me.

Once again, comparing our iMiEV with all the other small cars, the iMiEV's utilization of its interior space is far superior, IMO, thus making it eminently suitable as a daily urban workhorse.

This is a table of a few parameters I consider important when comparing vehicles. I'll try to remember to keep updating this, and please send me a PM if you find some errors or if you find someone else who is doing this better so I can link to it.