September 10th, 2012 by Charis Michelsen
Hi again! It’s Charis; 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. Technicalities about the i-MiEV are up here in the first post of the series.
Yesterday I promised highway driving. I have now taken the car onto the interstate. And a local highway. And another freeway.
Day Five, 10:41am
Merging onto the freeway in the i-MiEV goes perfectly well in normal mode. I hit 65mph with no problem, albeit a little slower than I would in the Ford. I did notice that the C Pillar blind spot on the driver’s side is a little wider than I thought it was, as I nearly ran over a 370Z.
The i-MiEV is cruising along at 60, 65mph pretty comfortably; I haven’t tried going at much higher speeds yet, so I’m hanging out in the right lane for a while instead of immediately playing chicken with the other motorists.
A side note – pretty much everyone I’ve had in the passenger seat has told me that the acceleration in eco mode is perfectly acceptable; it is possible that I think it’s slow because I apparently have a lead foot out of the intersection.
Day Five, 10:44am
As I’m sure everyone else has also said, driving on the highway gives you a much shorter effective range than driving through town. The range indicator said 80 when I started out, and now that I’ve gone approximately 11 miles (and gotten back off the freeway) it says 63.
Day Five, 11:54am
At this point, I have taken the i-MiEV onto the tollway with its relatively high-speed traffic. I’m still hanging out in the right lane, doing maybe 70, 72mph, and watching everyone else drive at 80+. The i-MiEV, when I chase the cars in the left lanes, does speed up and keep speeding up, but I don’t feel like courting a speeding ticket, so I go back to the right lane.
Day Five, 4:20pm
…I found a ChargePoint card in the glove box. I’m fairly sure I was actually told it was there and then promptly forgot about it. That would have made the public charging station so much easier to use.
Day Six, 9:30am
So it occurs to me Mitsubishi’s i-MiEV page says that it makes a “pleasant, perceptible sound” to inform surrounding people that there is actually a car coming. I’m not entirely sure that most people associate this sound with Oncoming Traffic at this point, given the number of cyclists who are still trying to impale themselves on the car. I’m sure this will change over time.
Day Six, 9:33am
…I keep putting the i-MiEV into neutral instead of reverse. I do not know why, they’re clearly marked on the shifter.
Day Six, 9:37am
Do you know what happens when you take an electric car through a drive-through?
Nothing special. Unless you, like me, have someone outside the car taking pictures of you on your phone so that you can add them to your posts. In that case, the drive-through staff start side-eying your photographer pretty hard, until he explains that he is a) your father, and b) helping you test the super awesome shiny electric car. And then they will smile and give you your coffee.
Day Six, 9:48am
So I forgot that I put the i-MiEV back in eco mode and took it back on the freeway. It’s accelerating slowly, okay, it really is, but it has reached 55mph (the actual speed limit, although the majority of the other cars are going 70+) with no problem and is happily cruising along.
Day Six, 10:29am
I have to return the i-MiEV tomorrow, so I need to disconnect my extension cord. My father suggests that I drive the car up onto the grass in front of the patio so that the OEM cord reaches the outlet.
It’s got tiny wheels. It’s not going to make it over the curb, Dad.
His response to that is to find the wheelchair ramp and then just drive down the sidewalk.
Day Six, 10:32am
One – okay, two – final notes on the interior of the i-MiEV. The first is that there’s only one cup holder in the car, and it’s not particularly conveniently located. It’s not bad if you’re in the car alone, though, and I guess if you’ve got someone else in the car they can just hold their own drink. Or you could get a tray.
The other is that the interior of the i-MiEV is not actually tiny. I’m 5’2″ and I was perfectly comfortable in it. My father is 6′ even and he was also perfectly comfortable in it. Admittedly, I have not shoved anyone in the back seat, which does look a bit smaller. Then again, don’t you usually put kids in the back seat? Kids are smaller. I think that works out.
I am incredibly sad to have to give this little car back. It’s been so much fun.
Keep up to date with all the most interesting green news on the planet by subscribing to our (free) Planetsave newsletter.