Saturday, February 7, 2015

Unicorn in the Making?

Initially my goal was to build/convert my own electric car.  For the time being, I have talked myself out of that plan.  Then the idea shifted to buying a used electric car.  I used several related phrases on various Internet search engines.  Ebay wound up being a popular destination to perform research.  A project car from someone else, either successful or failed, was not an option.  My interest was is something that was factory original, not a conversion.  Some of the candidates were TH!NK City, Kandi CoCo, Bombardier NEV, and Sebring-Vanguard CitiCar.  If the price was right, something from ZENN, GEM, or anything else that was either out of production or still in production, but used would be considered.  I could justify a NEV (Neighborhood Electric Vehicle) due to my short commute to work and ownership of traditional cars to support longer trips.

Previously, from time to time I would get lost performing Internet searches for micro-cars.  The idea of finding something rare or obscure that was still functional appealed to me.  Part of the interest was from learning the story behind the company and part was from "joining" a sub-culture of car enthusiasts who wanted to preserve pieces of little-known automotive history.  Some call these types of cars "unicorns" due to their rare sightings.  It could be a conversation starter.  It would satisfy an internal "neat" requirement.

Somewhere along the way, I stumbled upon the Mitsubishi I-MiEV.  They were too new to the market at the time to find a used model.  And with the financial incentives from the federal tax deduction and IL state rebate which were only available to new purchases, buying new starting to look like a viable option.  Factor in zero percent financing and offsetting the price with a trade-in, it was really looking justifiable.  At the time of purchase I figured it would just be a matter of months before I saw another one driving around town.  Fast forward two years later and I have yet to see another one on the road.  I have become aware that another one exists in my town, but we have yet to cross paths.

My purchase was a 2012 model year.  There wasn't a 2013 model year vehicle produced, it was just left over models from the previous year that were seen on the dealers' lots.  A 2014 model year vehicle was produced, and it even offered a price lowered in excess of $6000.  That still was not enough to excite the masses.  So with low manufacturing numbers for 2012 and 2014, it appears I may have gotten my wish after all.  I own an original manufactured car produced in small numbers.  The total global sales may have exceeded 30,000 units, but only about 2,000 of those sales have been in the U.S.  It is tough to tell if there is a 2015 model year being produced.  The few sites that pretend to have information make statements like "electric engine" or show multiple photos with conflicting body styles.  I had really hoped the I-MiEV would have become mainstream.  A lack of advertising has not hurt Tesla popularity and sales, but the same is not true for the Mitsubishi.  Unfortunately most people have never heard of it.  I only stumbled upon it when I was searching for other electric vehicles.

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