Monday, August 27, 2012

Mitsubishi i-MiEV Electric Vehicle Intro

On August 22nd, 2012, I  purchased a 2012 Mitsubishi iMiEV.  In the months and years that follow there will be updates about ownership and random thought concerning electric vehicles (EVs) in general or my car in particular.  What am I doing that is different from most?  For years I've owned a KILL A WATT electricity usage monitor, but not much was done with it.  It's time to put it to good use. Starting with the first recharge after bringing the car home, the KILL A WATT was plugged into the outlet with the vehicle charger.  A spreadsheet is being maintained that will record charging time, kilowatts used, starting and ending "bars" on the Energy Level Gauge, and the estimated range in miles pre- and post-charge.  That is on the charging side of the equation.  On the driving side, the Energy Level Gauge "bars" used, the actual miles driven and the estimated range (after charging, and also before recharging) will be recorded. 

Why an Electric Vehicle?  There isn't one overriding factor that guided my decision to purchase an EV.  In the end, the decision was relatively "spontaneous" compared to the majority of the major decisions I make, or eventually talk myself out of.  For years the idea of converting an Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) vehicle into an EV seemed like a worthwhile venture.  Research was conducted primarily by visiting websites of Do-It-Yourselfers.  One of the cars I own is a 1992 Mazda Miata.  For a while it was considered as a donor vehicle.  It has many of the right characteristics.  It's light, in excellent physical condition, and it's paid for.  But I've owned it since new and the idea of tearing apart a black Special Edition Miata (one of 1500 made for '92) was difficult to fathom.  I looked into buying a MG Midget to use as a donor.  Previously I'd bought one right before graduating high school.  One negative factor is being 6 foot 3 inches tall.  My knees surrounded the steering wheel then and things aren't likely to have changed over the years.  But another thing I wanted to attempt with an EV was hub motors.  This would mean that the wheels would have motors and the propulsion would happen there.  Not only could the engine, gas tank, and exhaust be removed, but the transmission, drive shaft, differential and axle shafts could come out to lower the vehicle weight even more.  Simple in concept, but research showed that it would be underpowered for the budget I was looking at for batteries.  And the technology for hub motors appears to be unproven with limited supplier sources, none with a reputation for reliability or clear documentation for successful accomplishments.  So to go the DIY route, I would have to invest a lot more money than I had initially prepared for mentally.  And there would still be the entire seeing the project through to completion obstacle.  Too late for long story short, but the next step in research was to search on eBay for electric vehicles.  At the time there was used a Think City for a "reasonable"? price.  It would have been a way to enter the EV world, but the car was located about 250 miles away and would not have been able to be driven home without overnight stops for recharging.  Using a transport would have just added to the cost.  And then there was the issue of the company being in and out of bankruptcy and warranty concerns.  The Nissan Leaf wasn't a candidate, maybe the higher cost was issue.  The Honda FIT EV seemed like a descent choice but was only being offered as a lease and only in select markets (not mine).  The Mitsubishi has a fuel economy of 112 MPGe (Miles Per Gallon equivalent) which is unsurpassed.  While the body is larger for the American market, the platform has been tested and produced in Japan and many other countries prior to entry in the U.S.  And after searching the web sites of "local" Mitsubishi dealerships, it was discovered that it was available.  About a half dozen dealers in the Chicago area had between 5 and 7 models on hand.  The next step was to see what kind of rebates and incentives were out there.  The federal tax credit is $7500 and for the state of Illinois, it appears that 10 percent of the purchase price (up to $40,000 sticker price) is available by rebate.  (Some have stated that the Mitsubishi will get the entire $4000 rebate, but that won't be known for sure until after the state processes the rebate in December (they also process rebates in June).  Also in Illinois, license plate renewal is discounted by $81.50.  So next year instead of $99 for plates, the cost should only be $18.50!  I read a lot of reviews online, then went out to test drive one.  I've strayed quite a ways from why an electric car.  So here are some of the reasons:  I work 2 miles from home.  The grocery store, home repair store, and department stores are 5 miles away or less.  Between my wife and I, we own 4 other cars and a motorcycle, so having access to a gas vehicle for longer range drives is not an issue.  [Besides the motorcycle which is covered year round (insurance company policy) only two cars are insured and the others are in storage.]  The idea of not having to worry about what domestic or international event would cause the price of gas to rise is very appealing.  I like companies that are willing to invest in alternative fuels and supporting them by buying their products is capitalism at its finest. 

No comments:

Post a Comment