Electric Vehicles Are Coming: Recharge With 5 Choices

The MiEV is coming to town.

Translation: Mitsubishi Motors North America Inc. is offering up its Mitsubishi innovative Electric Vehicle (amazing name, I know) for pre-order starting April 22, Earth Day.

This vehicle, like Nissan's Leaf, is all electric all the time. The only other full-on electric car commercially available is the Tesla Roadster, which will set you back about 100,000. Tesla's sleek Model S sedan, which also boasts a 300 mile charge life and claims zero to 60 in 5.6 seconds, costs about half that and comes out next year.

The all-electric line-up available to consumer soon will be up to five models. And more are coming.

The 41,000 Chevy Volt is also on the streets. One was spotted by my co-worker Sandy Nax recently at a Kingsburg auto show. The Volt also features a gas engine for backup. Its all-electric range is 40 miles, not quite half the 32,780 Leaf's 100-mile advertised distance.

But according to Washington Examiner reporter David Freddoso, the news isn't all that electrifying for Chevy. Freddoso writes in his blog in March that sales of the Volt in February were a "very modest 281," down from 326 in December. Read some of the comments on the post, and it appears to be an issue more of supply than demand. One commenter says his Volt won't be delivered until late April or May.

After several delays, Fisker appears on track to begin delivering its Karma sedan in June or July, reports Products & Tech News. The blog says "Fisker's Roger Ormisher also points out that the company did begin 'limited series production' at the end of March as planned, and he says the company is 'ramping up slowly to ensure absolute quality.'" The all-electric luxury car will cost about 100,000.

Comparatively, the entry-level 2012 Mitsubishi i will set buyers back a measly 27,990. Add in the federal tax credit and the price drops to 20,490, "a substantial savings... when compared to its mass-produced production EV competition," the company says in a statement.

For a couple thousand more, buyers can get the SE package with "360-watt, eight speaker sound system, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, upgraded seating material with silver interior accents, unique two-tone interior and door panels, 15-inch alloy wheels and fog lamps." Another upgrade includes a quick-charge port for 80 percent recharge in 30 minutes and other fun stuff.

The MiEV will be on display at Earth Day San Francisco 2011 on April 23 in the Civic Center Plaza. For more information, go to http://www.earthdaysf.com/.

Mitsubishi didn't offer a driving range for the MiEV on its press release, but Michael Boxwell of thechargingpoint.com says the automaker claims a range of 92 miles. He said while testing the car, he was able to achieve a range of 92.7 miles in the city. "However, at higher speeds range does drop off considerably," Boxwell says. "On a trip down the motorway my range dropped to a little over 50 miles, while cross-country motoring gave me a range of 64.4 miles."

Blogger Phil T has been testing the limits of his newly purchased Nissan Leaf on Southern California roads and had this to say of its range: "I measured 86.5 miles of range on a day when I decided to try to run the car out of power to see what the range would be. I drove some of the miles gently and others aggressively, with no freeway miles. I know that the car is capable of more range, and I may try it again with a full 'tank' of careful driving."

I'll be following the exploits of Phil T, who just recently picked up his Leaf in Costa Mesa. I mentioned to him my fear of going all electric. (I have considered converting my black custom 1974 Super Beetle.) Phil says not to worry: "No point in being afraid, Mike. After all, 'faint heart never won fair maiden,' as they say."

In my defense, I will say I won the fair maiden 20 years ago.

Phil says it's just a matter of factoring in conditions and whether a driver's daily trips fit the range of an electric vehicle. "That and you'd need a plan for longer trips," he says.

So, if you've taken the plunge, I'd love to hear about your experiences.


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