For a relatively tiny car company, Mitsubishi is forging ahead with an ambitious electrification plan that puts it close to the forefront of the burgeoning electric car movement.
Judging from the 2012 i-MiEV fully electric hatchback set to arrive in Canada in December, it’s clear the company does not have the disposable research or materials budgets that plug-in leaders GM and Nissan do to pour into this expensive area. But what it does offer is North America’s first “entry-level” EV: the least expensive fully electric vehicle, to start at about 25 grand after provincial rebates in Ontario and Quebec, where the bulk of initial Canadian EV sales are expected.
Twenty-five large, zero tailpipe emissions (or tailpipes), near zero driving noise and never having to care about the price of gas is an enticing proposition. Granted, this is the i-MiEV’s starting price after provincial tax rebates of $8,230 in Ontario, and $7,850 in Quebec, and before sales taxes and the $1,450 freight charge.
Consumers in other provinces are looking at a starting price of $32,998 for the (very) base car, or $35,998 once you include the highly desirable Premium package. The provincial governments of British Columbia and Manitoba are also very active in the electric vehicle sphere, and are both considering their own plug-in incentives, but nothing is official yet.
Then there’s the one big caveat: the i-MiEV will realistically only give you about 100 km worth of driving before it needs a long electricity fill-up. And the majority of my colleagues on this launch experienced a healthy dose of range anxiety, and that includes some Mitsu Canada folks, in a day’s worth of driving.
But first the cost question, since it is a key but complicated one with battery EVs. Whatever your province, the i-MiEV commands a hefty price premium compared to similar-sized subcompact gas-powered vehicles. Especially once potential buyers factor in a $2,000 or so home charger, which in Canada is a must-have for any BEV owner. Buyers in Quebec are also eligible for money back on their home charger installation, up to $1,000.
I’d argue the Premium package – which adds Bluetooth, USB, steering wheel stereo controls and a GPS system for $3,000 – is a must-have as well. The package’s large colour touch screen adds a much-needed high-tech touch to what is a painfully plain econo-car interior.
Where everyone will save money is in refuelling costs. Although the actual electricity rate you pay will depend on a multitude of factors (which province you live in, time of use rates in some areas), Canada averages about $0.10 per kilowatt-hour. Enter the U.S. government’s super handy and metric-friendly fueleconomy.gov site. It allows us to change the cost of fuel from their laughable $0.927/litre default to a more realistic for us $1.25 and $1.35/litre for regular and premium, respectively, and then compare it to our average electricity rate as well with the i-MiEV.
Using these figures, an i-MiEV would cost $447 to run 24,000 kilometres, about a year’s worth of driving for the average Canadian commuter, compared to $2,139 for the similarly sized subcompact Hyundai Accent hatchback. And against the best-selling car in Canada for the past 13 years, the also new Honda Civic? It would cost $2,205 to cover the same distance, or almost five times as much to fuel, using these approximate figures.
Mitsubishi and most industry watchers say the cost of maintenance will also be much lower, since the car doesn’t have many of the parts that need regular upkeep: engine oil, filter, spark plugs, transmission, exhaust system, fan belt – the list goes on and on. No estimate yet on how much less this could work out to, and we likely won’t know until owners start blogging about living with one, after deliveries set to start in early January.
Cheapest fully electric vehicle coming to Canada soon - The Globe and Mail