Mitsubishi i-MiEV electric hatchback priced at $32,998

Trevor Hofmann - CAP staff
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Mitsubishi Canada has announced that $32,998 (plus destination fees and taxes of course) will be enough take home its upcoming i-MiEV subcompact hatchback when it goes on sale later this year.

Fifty examples of the tiny A-segment car have actually been on Canadian roads since 2010, driven by select business and government fleets as part of the car's developmental "beta" stage needed to make certain it would be ready for consumer use.

When the full production Canadian-specification i-MiEV finally goes on sale it will be available in two trim levels, Standard and Premium. The standard car comes with a short-list of features including air conditioning, remote keyless entry and a heated driver's seat, but spend a few thousand more and the $35,998 i-MiEV Premium adds upgraded audio with an integrated navigation system, a leather wrapped steering wheel, and 15-inch alloy wheels.

If you're worried whether or not your i-MiEV will be able to keep up to a smart car on the highway, suffice that it will maintain a top speed of 130 km/h and according to Mitsubishi will enjoy a range of 135 kilometres, so it should motor along quite nicely and you shouldn't get stranded on your commute if you remember to plug it in at night.

But is $32,998 the right starting price? Before we start comparing apples to oranges a few details should be noted. First, unlike the smart fortwo, which lives up to its name and only seats two people, the i-MiEV is good for four comfortably. smart is working on an all-electric fortwo, but has yet to make any announcements so gasoline power is currently the only drive system the German brand offers.

Secondly, the Nissan LEAF, which is larger than the i-MiEV and to most should feel more substantive, will most likely cost Canadian consumers more than its $32,780 U.S. base retail price.

Third, another electric getting a lot of headlines is Chevrolet's Volt, but it's not entirely electric. The Volt is more of a reverse hybrid that uses electric motors to power its wheels and recharges its battery pack either by getting plugged into an electrical socket or via a small onboard gasoline engine that spins an electric generator, or a combination of both depending on driving distances. It's nevertheless more of a viable competitor than the upcoming plug-in Prius that still uses a gasoline engine as its primary driving source. The Volt won't be available in Canada until next spring.

Critics will react to the i-MiEV's $32,998 base price in the same way that they did to gasoline-electric hybrid cars when they were introduced, as being steep if compared to a regular gasoline powered subcompact that currently start in the $13,000 to $15,000 range. And such is the price paid to be an early adaptor. No doubt pricing for electrics will come down as sales go up, just like the hybrid industry has shown. It's taken more than a decade for hybrids to become a common consideration by consumers looking to replace their existing conventionally-powered cars, and part of that reason was the initial high price of entry. When Toyota's best-selling Prius entered the market it was a compact sedan selling for about $30,000. Now, with strong competition, the price of the Prius has dropped and all hybrid carmakers are enjoying better sales while consumers are winning at the pump.

i-MiEV owners will pass right by that pump altogether, and that prospect should cause the car's popularity to rise, while new competitors entering the market will no doubt push prices down in coming years.
©(Copyright Canadian Auto Press)

Topics: Hatchback, EV, Mitsubishi, 2012, i-MiEV, $30,000 - $39,999, Electric, Subcompact,

Organizations: Mitsubishi

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