Mitsubishi has begun producing the North American version of its i-MiEV electric car at its Mizushima manufacturing plant in Japan, with cars bound for the western states of Hawaii, California, Washington and Oregon by the end of this month.
Sales of the mass-market electric car, seen potentially as a major rival for the Nissan Leaf, will expand throughout other parts of the United States and Canada by the end of fiscal year 2012, the company says.
As we reported in September, the retail price for the basic i-MiEV model is $29,125. Subtract the $7,500 federal tax credit for buying an EV, and the net price to the buyer is $21,625. Top speed for the i-MiEV is around 80 mph, and it has a range of about 90 miles.
The North American version of the i-MiEV is said to have more torque, a larger body and new front and rear bumpers, plus upgraded safety features (advanced airbag and tire pressure monitoring systems) to conform to North American safety requirements.
The EV, as you can see in the photo above, may be a little bare bones for some on the interior. Still, Mitsubishi said it has been selling its “ultimate eco-car” in Japan since July 2009 and started full-scale export to Europe in 2010. Cumulatively, it has sold more than 16,000 units to date, so there is definitely a market for a more scaled down electric car.