Saturday, October 27, 2012

Two Months Living with the Mitsubishi i-MiEV

So, what’s it like to have an electric car?

In a word, BRILLIANT! Every time I start driving I can’t help but think I’m on a Disney ride.  The quiet hum of the electric motor and the faint sound of road noise from the narrow tires makes me think I’m on an amusement park ride.  That’s not a bad thing.  I get child-like smirk across my face and feel like I jumped the track and exited the park.  Part of the feeling comes from the surreal and Zen-like quiet of the car while it is operating and part of the feeling comes from style of the car itself.  'Polarizing' comes to mind as to how people react to the shape.  You either admire it or you don’t.  It definitely departs from traditional styling without being too radical.  It is easy on the eyes and is welcoming rather than threatening.  If this car was in Mad Max it would be cast as a victim instead of as a villain.  For a person that is 6’3” (2m), the interior is accommodating.  I don’t feel cramped and have ample leg room and head room.  I doubt four occupants my size would want to travel for extended durations, but that wasn’t what the car was designed for anyway.  It would be the equivalent of reviewing a sport bike and complaining about the lack of storage space.

How is it used?

It’s only fair to give a real-world account of how I have used my i-MiEV over the last two months.  What good would it do to say it works for 95% of my driving without explaining what my driving requirements are?  A little background information is in order.  Between my wife and me, we own 5 vehicles and a motorcycle.  We have a two-car garage with enough extra space to keep the motorcycle inside, but 3 of the other 4 vehicles are in storage.  We are dual income with no kids and have a modest house which has been paid off for a few years.  We’re best described as middle-income with very few extravagances.  (If we were upper-income, I would have bought a Tesla instead.)  In two months time, over 650 miles have been put on the Mitsubishi.  45 of those miles were returning from the dealership with the car.  Therefore, the average is about 10 miles of driving per day.  My daily commute to work and back is 4 miles round-trip.  Other ways the mileage is accumulating is by trips to the grocery store, other shopping trips to department stores or malls, the occasional restaurant trip, and other miscellaneous driving around town.  The farthest from home the car has been since returning from the dealership is about 10 miles one-way to my brother’s house.  It’s not that I don’t have the confidence to take it farther, but I haven’t really had the need to go much farther.  We had contemplated what would have been a 35 mile round-trip excursion to an apple orchard, but the weather wasn’t cooperative the weekend we had planned on going.  Almost as important to mention are the trips I haven’t been able to use the EV. I built a fence a few weeks back.  The i-MiEV came in handy for trips back and forth to the hardware store for things like a new garden hose (for mixing concrete), gate latches, nails and screws.  What it didn’t get used for was picking up and returning the two-man auger used for drilling post holes, the two trips to pick up thirty 60-pound bags of cement mix, and the trip to get the 1.5 cubic yard cement mixer.  But those trips were not about range limitations.  If one of our other vehicles wasn’t a Dodge Nitro, the hauling of 3600 pounds of cement mix would have been a different logistical outcome than dividing it up into just two loads.  My wife uses the other vehicle as needed and if we need to head out-of-town it’s not a dilemma to choose a gas powered car with its “unlimited” range.  But I do face “pump anxiety”.  Pump Anxiety is a term I just created to describe the feeling one gets when filling a fuel tank and watching the cost accumulate as the gallons are added.  It can also be used to describe the anxiousness associated with evaluating the cost of fuel at different stations or on different days of the week depending on what world event has caused the price of oil to fluctuate.

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