Mitsubishi i-MiEV – Entry-level Electric Motoring

In any shopping experience, there’s the fancy way, the regular way and the basic way to buy. You can grab the $3,000 bracelet at Tiffany’s, the $500 one at Macy’s, or the $29.95 one at Ross.

Same thing with electric cars. A super-duper Tesla can set you back $90,000, a Leaf is $35,000, and the little Mitsubishi i-MiEV? Just $22,995.

Mitsubishi_i-MiEV 2016

You do get more for your money, but if you truly want gas-free travel, the i-MiEV will do it. And there’s a certain charm to it, too, with its quirky bubble styling and basic (but quite functional) controls inside.

The downside is the range–about 62 miles–but that’s actually enough for most of your driving. I commuted 18 miles each way to work in the bright blue one I tested recently, and it was just fine. It helped that there are half a dozen ChargePoint charging stations in front of my office building, too, because charging at 240 volts is much faster than household 120.

You won’t have problems finding your i-MiEV in the parking lot–few are sold in the U.S., but they’re more popular in Europe.

See my recent story in the Tri-City Voice (Fremont, California) for more details.

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Why the Price of Gas Is Too Low

2014 Ford Fusion Energi sedan is Ford's newest plug-in hybrid; it has an EPA-estimated range of 620 miles when starting with a full tank of gas and fully charged battery.

Ford Fusion Energi

Everybody wants to save money. I hate paying a lot for gasoline, too. But, regular is just over $3 a gallon in California now, and I heard on the radio yesterday that somewhere in the continental U.S. it was below $2 a gallon. Hooray!

But wait a minute. The lower fuel prices go, the more people go out and buy large, gas-guzzling cars. Price is a big factor in those purchases, and the supply of Toyota Priuses piles up in the dealer lots.

Hybrid versions of cars that are also sold as gas models cost more. The idea is to save money, and they do–eventually. The real reason, though, to buy a hybrid, electric, or small, highly efficient vehicle is to save the planet!

Some folks do make that choice. I can think of three sets of them now. My neighbors traded in a thirsty, but beautifully maintained Lincoln Town Car for a midsize Ford Fusion Energi plug-in hybrid. That should triple or quadruple their mileage, and reduce their carbon footprint significantly.

Another couple I know, already Prius owners, leased a Nissan Leaf pure electric vehicle. The $99/month payment was a factor, but these folks, who have the solar panels on their roof to fuel the thing, are simply making the right choice.

I just found out today that another friend just got himself a brand new Volkswagen eGolf pure electric car. He already was planet friendly with his Honda Fit, but this makes a difference.

But, when I circumambulate the parking lot at my company, there are very few hybrids and electrics there. It’s going to take a while.

It’s Time to Go Green

I’ve been testing cars for 23-1/2 years now, and there’s one thing that’s been bothering me for a long time. I love cars, or I wouldn’t be writing about them, but it feels like I’m supporting one of the main culprits of climate change. It feels like being a  smoker–I know it’s bad for me, but I’m hooked.

Well, my auto column has exposed me to lots of great highly efficient vehicles, including hybrids, plug-in hybrids, battery electric vehicles, and even some highly efficient regular old internal combustion cars.

This blog is about moving to the good guys. I’ll cover cars like the affordable all-electric Mitsubishi i-MiEV, the popular Toyota Prius, which gets a true 50 miles per gallon, and even the 2016 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid, a large, comfortable sedan that averaged 36 miles per gallon for the week I drove it.

I’ll talk about new technology, upcoming models, and ways to reduce driving without becoming housebound. There are plenty of fun-to-drive cars out there that have a much more minimal impact on the earth, and we’ll talk about them here.

Even if you switch from a 10-year-old Chevy Malibu to a 2016 Honda Fit, you’re doing something to help. Carpool with someone–even better. Or, if you’ve got a reasonable commute, use an electric.

Watch this space for a special feature coming soon–a long-term test of a pure electric vehicle. I’ll show it in all it’s glory, and show you the pain points, too.

It’s time to go green. Let’s do it together.