The Mitsubishi I-MIEV was one of the first electric cars to come to market when it appeared in the UK in 2010. It is also sold as the Citroen C-Zero and Peugeot iOn. The car has proved to be pretty popular in Europe, with a total of around 15,000 units of its three guises having being sold there up until the end of 2012. Most of these sales were in continental Europe however and UK sales have been sluggish.
MIEV stands for Mitsubishi Innovative Electric Vehicle and it is a hatchback five-door electric version of the Mitsubishi i.
Bang for your buck
The European version was an improvement on the original Japanese I-MIEV in that it had redesigned rear and front bumpers (in order to meet European regulations), improved interior comfort, Active Stability Control, curtain and side airbags and a re-arranged centre stack. All of these were provided as standard.
The rear doors are proper-sized solid doors and there is a fair amount of space for rear passengers, however boot space suffers due to the rear-engine design. The rear seats split so that larger loads can be carried. You do find that the boot heats up quite a bit due to it being situated over the engine, which is handy for keeping takeaways warm but not so good for frozen food shopping.
Build quality is generally good but some of the interior plastics do feel rather cheap and the interior doesn't match up to the I-MIEV's funky exterior.
What you'll pay
New Mitsubishi I-MIEV cars for sale were around £28,000 which is a hefty price for a small car with a maximum range of around 90 miles. It hasn't kept its value that well since first coming to market, for example, a 2012 example with around 4,000 miles on the clock will cost only around £14,500. You'll find that all M-IEVS are priced around this mark as there aren't many around with a lot of miles under the bonnet.
What to check
Most used I-MIEV's will have been mostly driven around towns and cities so check for scuffs on the wheels, parking bumps and dents. Like nearly all Mitsubishi cars, the I-MIEV has proved pretty reliable so far, with no recurrent faults. If you can, check the range of the batteries is still decent as they don't last forever, however if the car you are considering is of low mileage this shouldn't be necessary. Also check that the charging circuit is working correctly.
It's hard to put prices on replacement parts for second-hand I-MIEVs because of the very small quantities that have been sold in the UK. It was intended to be inexpensive to have repaired though so new parts should be reasonable if they can be tracked down. Many parts are shared with the i so this can make finding them a little easier, although the i wasn't exactly a best-seller either.
How it drives
The Mitsubishi I-MIEV had an electric range of 93 miles according to the European NEDC driving pattern but on colder days this can be reduced considerably due to the batteries performing less well under low temperatures. Running the aircon will also impact the range. Because the additional weight of the battery is situated so low down, the I-MIEV is a smoother and more stable drive than the petrol version of the i.
The car, like a lot of electric vehicles, is quite quick off the mark and reaches 60 miles per hour in a very reasonable 13 seconds. The batteries generate 63 bhp and the top speed is around 90 miles per hour. Because of the lack of overhang at either end, it is an absolute doddle to park. Plugged into the mains, the car will fully charge in around 7 hours but this drops to an impressive 30 minutes if a 50kW three-phase power supply is used.
It was a brave move by Mitsubishi to introduce this unconventional car to the European market. It didn't sell so well in the UK but did gain a small group of loyal followers. The approved used Mitsubishi I-MIEV is a very good urban car because of its easy drive, lively engine and functional automatic transmission. It's not much cop on the open road but that was never the point of this likeable and original car. Standard features are impressive but the limited range before a charge is necessary can be a problem. In the end, it was the car's manoeuvrability and novelty value that appealed to those that championed it.