At the recent handover ceremony during the 2012 Electric Vehicle Summit, Mitsubishi officially turned-over to Meralco and the Department of Energy (DOE) the keys to the first i-MiEV in the country. Though it may look small, the i-MiEV packs a pretty awesome punch. With a 66 hp electric motor and 16 kw/h of lithium ion batteries, the i-MiEV can do highway speeds of up to 130 km/h and can travel 160 kilometers between charges. Not at the same time of course.
While 160 kilometers may not sound like a lot of range, the i-MiEV uses its batteries effectively. The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) in the U.S. published combined ratings of an electrical equivalent of nearly 48 km/L, and up to 53 km/L on the urban cycle. In other words, expect each kilometer travelled to cost a whole lot less.
Unfortunately, recharging that battery pack from a 220 wall outlet would take several hours. Fortunately, Mitsubishi also exhibited its quick-charging station, which intelligently quick-charges the pack, allowing 80% charging within 30 minutes. After the battery has reached 80%, it’ll take another hour or two to reach 100%, as the process slows down to keep temperatures in check and to prevent damaging the battery, but it’s a good way to get a quick top-off easily.
For the i-MiEV to be successful, selected stations in the deployment area will have to have these chargers. You could pull into the station, grab a coffee and a sandwich, and the car would be ready to go by the time you’re done.
Even better, the ride home will be a very comfortable one. The i-MiEV may be small, but it has generous headroom and elbow-room, and the air-conditioning is more than a match for our local weather. During our short drive around the Meralco compound, I was suitably impressed with the turbo-diesel-like shove of the i-MiEV’s electric motor. That permanent-magnet motor delivers 180 Nm of torque to the rear wheels the millisecond you step on the gas pedal. This ain’t no glorified golf-cart... the i-MiEV is the real deal. And it looks it. The styling is sleek and sexy, and there’s a subtle of aggression to the staggered wheels (slightly wider in the back, due to the rear-wheel drive) that hint at the playfulness of the chassis and the “oomph” from the electric motor.
Unfortunately, if you want your cake, you’ll have to pay for it. Like sugar-free confections, the i-MiEV costs significantly more than its regular diabetes-inducing counterparts. A comparable subcompact hatchback costs less than half as much, but the arrival of the iMIEV signifies an important step forward in the electrification of Philippine roads.
Whether mass-electrification happens within the next year, the next decade, or never, Mitsubishi can proudly say they were the first to take the gamble with the i-MiEV, and they’re the first major manufacturer to take that gamble to Philippine soil. Whether the gamble pays off, only time will tell.