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In news that somehow seems to have escaped everyone’s notice, you can buy a cost-effective 100% electric commuter / about-town car. Right now. At your local dealer. Not next year. Not “after the next breakthrough”. Not “almost, but with flaws”. Now.
The Mitsubishi i-MiEV (pronounce “meeve”)  really, truly works.
It cruises comfortably at 75mph.
It can travel 65 highway miles (my measurement - - the EPA rates it at 62) on a charge.
It can travel 75 city miles (my measurement - - the manufacturer claims 90) on a charge.
It seats four comfortably with a decent little cargo area in the back.  Or, flip the back seat down for a surprisingly generous capacity.
And it makes financial sense.
Yes, MSRP starts at $30k. Don’t be fooled. . .
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Start with that $30k MSRP.
Knock off $7500 for tax credit (this is the wealth discrimination part  - - if your 1040 doesn’t show you paid $7500 in tax, then you won’t get the full benefit).
Now look at five years’ ownership compared to a gasoline car.  The sticker claims the MiEV saves you about $1900 per year, which I think is overblown a bit. But a savings of $1000 to $1500 depending on your mileage and the fluctuating price of gas is a perfectly safe estimate. I’ll use $1200.
You also skip those pesky oil changes, sparkplug changes, radiator flushes, etc; in fact, you skip most of the expensive scheduled maintenance visits. Chalk up about $1000 in additional savings. (Add more if you put a cash value on all the time you waste taking your gasoline car in for maintenance).
$30k minus $7500(tax) minus $6000(fuel) minus $1000(maintenance) = $15500
The five-year cost of owning a MiEV is about the same as that of a $15.5k gasoline car.
(You can pay to install a quick charging station at home if you want, but I didn’t - - I just let it charge (slowly) on ordinary 110V power).
This competes very nicely with the economy/compact car market.
 Okay, but is it practical?  
It’s practical if you commute less than 30 miles one way. You drive it every day, charge it every night - - end of problem.
It’s practical if you run a handful of city errands every day, but rarely over 70 miles. I think that profile fits a lot of our urban and suburban car owners. Drive it to the grocery, bank, soccer game, charge it up again at night - - all set.
For family use, I think it’s most practical if you have a second car for those occasion where you have to drive 100 miles to some special event, etc. - - or when you have to haul five passengers.
For individual ownership, you have to be pretty urban-centric and willing to rent a car a few times a year for those special events (or consider a Volt instead).
 Okay, but how about the driving experience?
I find it terrifically enjoyable to drive. It’s quiet. Okay, it’s absolutely silent. You float down the road without that nasty roaring noise cranking your stress level. You can hear the radio. Or have a civilized conversation with your passenger. The aerodynamics are great, so there’s no wind noise on the highway.
When you’re stuck in traffic or at red lights, it’s silent and still. No annoying vibrations from the motor idling. Nothing. Peace.
It doesn’t make a fuss about starting or changing gears. No vroomy vroom startups. No lurch from first to second to third gear (it doesn’t change gears at all). Just simple, clean, elegant motion.

Last summer , Troubador made the case for a moral obligation to buy the Tesla  - - if you can afford it.
If you can afford a Nissan Versa, or a Toyota Yaris, or a Hyundai Accent - - any of the entry-level economy cars - - then you can afford the i-MiEV.  

Full disclosure: Neither I nor my friends and family work for Mitsubishi. None of us own stock in Mitsubishi. We do not profit financially if you buy a Mitsubishi. I do expect to benefit indirectly from public acceptance of EVs, e.g. by improved infrastructure and so forth - - not to mention better air to breathe.

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Originally posted to Morgan in Austin on Sat Jan 12, 2013 at 12:07 PM PST.

Also republished by Climate Change SOS.

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