Green Cars

Published on September 7th, 2012 | by Charis Michelsen

Liveblogging the Practical Aspects of a Mitsubishi i-MiEV, Day Two

Hi, I’m Charis. Remember me from yesterday? I write about cars (among other important things). For one whole week, I have a Mitsubishi i-MiEV parked in front of my apartment, courtesy of Mitsubishi, and I get to play. You get to come along for the ride.  I apparently have more to say than will fit on one page, so new page every day!

The technical aspects of the i-MiEV can be found in yesterday’s post, if you’re curious.

Day One, 6:11pm

Okay, technically this was yesterday. Bear with me. The alleged range of the i-MiEV is 62 miles or so. My sister’s place is 28 miles away, either down the interstate or through the city. Normally, I’d take the interstate (45 minutes), but I elected to go through the city because regenerative braking.  Put the i-MiEV in eco mode and go!

At this point, I am incredibly smug about the fact that I am sitting in traffic and not wasting gas. I also think that the range gauge is maybe not a range gauge at all, because I’ve gone three miles and it still reads 68.

And that I should probably have read the manual before starting out.

Day One, 6:27pm

Switched to B mode! There’s bumper to bumper traffic and this seems like a great time to test it as I go around the detour.

So I have no idea what acceleration is like under B mode, because there is no room to accelerate (no, really, there are fifteen cars in front of me backed up at a stop sign).  On the other hand, that drag I felt yesterday when letting go of the acceleration? That’s the regenerative braking kicking in! It’s super fun to watch the needle dip into the blue “charge” side of the display.

Day One, 6:42

I’m six miles out from my destination and the battery gauge – which is super adorable, it’s a gas station with a plug on – is only three bars down out of a total 16.  I think that speaks rather well as to the range.

I did find a potential downside, though – cyclists have no idea that I’m there. None. I mean, they don’t look over their shoulders when going around a car parked in the bike lane, which means that I have nearly run over a cyclist twice so far because the i-MiEV is silent and the cyclist is not paying attention. The pedestrians keep trying to walk in front of me, too, but they look right at me while they do it (and also they do this while I’m driving the Ford, which is extremely loud), so I don’t think it’s because the i-MiEV is quiet.

Day One, 6:56pm

The ride is actually okay; it’s not the smoothest, and bumpy streets are bumpy, but it’s not bad.  It’s about on a par with the ’98 Ford Escort I usually drive, so not bad.  (Also, some parts of Milwaukee Ave. are way skeevier than I remember them being.)

Then as I’m sitting at a stop light, some guy starts shouting across the street at me. “Citroen, Citroen!”  So I shout back, “No, it’s a Mitsubishi! It’s electric!”  When the light changes, he runs up to the car and says again, “Citroen 1959!” All I can say at this point is, “Dude, it’s a Mitsubishi i-MiEV!” He then pointed out that it was shaped like a 1959 Citroen because of the curviness of the roof, and walked off, small child in tow.

This is the most random experience I have ever had in a car.

Day One, 6:58pm

The seats don’t look like they’d be that great. They kind of look blah and flat and like a kei car. However, the seats are ridiculously comfortable, and I have to take back half of what I said after the Chicago Auto Show about the interior of the i-MiEV being possibly inferior. This is awesome.

Day One, 7:14pm

I have arrived at my destination! It took maybe an hour and ten minutes, which is a bit long, but I’m here with 12 bars left on the battery.  It is possible to get more range out of the car by driving efficiently and economically!

The GPS, by the way, is also satisfactory. It gets you to where you need to go, it’s intuitive, it works great. The one thing that I had trouble with was aiming for where the touch screen thought the buttons were; occasionally I’d get a wrong letter or a wrong number and have to go back and fix it.

It says 11:54 because I took that picture this morning, not during the trip last night.

I really like that the button says “NAVI” on it, because for six years in Japan I heard the word “nabi” for the GPS system, and then I came home and said “navi” and people looked at me like I was crazy. So thank you, Mitsubishi, for using that specific word. (What, it’s totally intuitive – it’s short for “navigation.”)

Day One, 7:55pm

So my sister and I went to get dinner from a couple miles away, and the battery has dropped another bar, and I am thinking that tonight might be the night I do not make it home because I used up the entire charge attempting to parallel park in Chicago. I hate parallel parking. (This is not Mitsubishi’s fault.)

Day One, 8:56pm

My sister offers her opinions:

“I don’t think it’s quite as cute as you do. Maybe in another color besides black. I was thinking it felt slightly like it might fall apart if it got run into, but you assured me that it passed crash tests.  I dunno, I just think they did a really good job making a car that anyone could use, at least, wait, we’re talking about not driving for huge distances, but most people don’t actually do that, and they just think in their mind, Oh, I need to be able to do this.”

She’s echoing everything I say about people who complain about electric cars not being able to drive far enough.  (Yep, we’re related.)

Day One, 9:39pm

I’m now on my way home and have decided that the range gauge is in fact how many miles are left on the car. Also, driving with the headlights on reduces range noticeably.  Not significantly, but noticeably.

I think it’s possible that an electric car might help make people more aware of their driving and thus engender better driving habits. I’d rather stop at the light now instead of speeding through it (and also in eco mode, there is no speeding through anything), for example, and I’m not accelerating hard out of an intersection to keep up with the next car any more. I mean, I don’t care, let him waste gas. I’ll be over here with a little more range and zero emissions, and I’ll still reach the next red light at the same time.

Day One, 10:35pm

First – I made it home from a 65 mile round trip with 31 miles still left on the charge! I am very very pleased. For posterity, I had the windows down and the A/C off (I do this regardless of what I’m driving), I drove through town and averaged maybe 35mph, and I was in Eco Mode.

But now that I am home, I have run into a snag. There is a thunderstorm. I do not want to charge the car in a thunderstorm, because lightning. And also the manual, which I have finally read, says not to.

Day Two, 7:28am

Well, the plug on the patio is inexplicably not charging the i-MiEV. It charged it yesterday. Now it’s just blinking “not grounded,” which admittedly it did yesterday, but it also charged the car. I have things to do. I don’t have time for this right now.

PS – clicking the remote unlock for the Ford does not unlock the i-MiEV, no matter how many times you try. Self, grab the right set of keys next time.

Day Two, 9:36am

Problem solved.

I noticed also that while there is a calendar and a mobile phone hookup for the car – and also a USB port down under the dash for plugging things into – that there is no app for finding charging stations. Not that there are many around here, but Google showed me a few.  It would be nice if the i-MiEV had that preloaded.

Rainstorms and traffic jams on days 3 and 4!

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About the Author

spent 7 years living in Germany and Japan, studying both languages extensively, doing translation and education with companies like Bosch, Nissan, Fuji Heavy, and others. Charis has a Bachelor of Science degree in biology and currently lives in Chicago, Illinois. She also believes that Janeway was the best Star Trek Captain.

  • RS Mills

    I understand regenerative braking but why isn’t there a generator hooked up to the drive train, more free energy!!

  • Oz_Chris

    Good effort on the range remaining! Take it on the interstate, please!

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