Battery-powered car goes mainstream

  • Claimed range up to 100 miles
  • Top speed of 87mph
  • On sale late 2009

The i MiEV is the world's first electric car from a mainstream manufacturer.

Mitsubishi claims its electric car has a top speed of 87mph, can carry four adults, has a range of 80-100 miles and can be fully recharged using a lead fitted with a household three-pin plug in less than six hours.

The i MiEV is based on a mass-produced city car, the Mitsubishi i but rather than a 650cc petrol engine, it is fitted with Lithium-ion batteries and a 47kw electric motor.

Driving impressions

The driving experience is very similar to most small city cars. The electric motor gets the car moving quickly thanks to its torquey power delivery and keeps up with city traffic very easily.

Out on the open road the i MiEV cruises up to 60mph and can be pressed on to 70mph-plus, and can keep up with free flowing dual-carriageway traffic.

The main difference from a petrol-powered car is that there is no engine braking which means you have to use the car's brakes more. It's not a problem once you learn to brake a little sooner.

The car's claimed range is 80-100 miles, but driving in winter with headlights, heater and radio on, half the battery charge was used to cover 24 miles in 50 minutes on a test drive through and around Oxford.

There is an Eco mode, which reduces power to 18kw and extends the car's range, as well as a 'B' mode that optimises the recharging system. So when you brake or go downhill the maximum amount of energy is converted to recharging the batteries.

Future plans

There are plans for a quick charger which boots the car batteries to 80 per cent power in 20 minutes, but the bigger issue is the lack of any public recharging points. Currently, owners would have to recharge their car at home.

The company claims the cost of a full charge would be 45p at current prices. The car is also car tax and London congestion charge exempt.

The i MiEV it is due to go on sale at the end of 2009 in very limited numbers (200) and while prices haven't been confirmed it's likely to cost considerably more than its equivalent £8500 petrol-powered version.

Mitsubishi i MiEV

Price: £TBC
Warranty: proposed 93,000 miles/ 10 years
Top Speed: 87 mph
0-62 mph: 13 seconds
Maximum power: 47kw (Eco mode = 18kw)
Maximum torque 133lb ft
Recharge time: six hours
On Sale: end of 2009 with 200 for sale