Mitsubishi Kills i-MiEV Small Electric Car

Mitsubishi i-MiEV

Mitsubishi announced last month it will no longer sell its i-MiEV electric hatchback in the United States, ending a five-year run characterized mostly by disappointing sales. Despite high hopes dating back to 2011 when it was released, and the lowest price among EVs, Mitsubishi managed to put fewer than 2,000 units on the road.

Even before the car hit the market, reviewers complained that the i-MiEV’s range was lower than the advertised 62 miles. In fact, under real world conditions, the i-MiEV’s range drops to 50 miles or less—if heat or air conditioning is required, or if driving into a headwind. Between its disappointing range, diminutive size, cartoonish styling and cheap interior, the i-MiEV was not well-suited to American car buyers. (The car fared better in Japan, where it serves as a small city car for short-distance drivers.)

Geting Real with Bigger Cars

On the heels of a financial turnaround, Mitsubishi is positioning itself to compete in the segment where it performs best: SUVs. In an interview with Automotive News, Osamu Masuko, Mitsubishi’s chief executive, said his company will launch three SUV models by 2020. New generations of the Outlander and Outlander Sport, as well as a yet-to-be-named new model, will fit in between its two current platforms.

The company promises that eventually all three platforms will house plug-in hybrid or EV powertrains. For the time being, Mitsubishi is preparing to offer a plug-in model it first promised for 2013, but after repeated delays will finally introduce in the U.S. in the coming spring: The 2017 Outlander Plug-in Hybrid.

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