Mitsubishi's i-MiEV first rolled out for Japanese fleet sales in 2009, and it's been on sale to the general public in Japan for 18 months. Since then, the car has become available in several European markets and even picked up a 500-unit order from the government of Estonia. Overall sales have been reported to top 11,000 units. Not a bad start for a little five-door jellybean, and Mitsubishi has stated that they expect the i-MiEV (or just 'i' for the upcoming U.S. model) to become profitable within two years.
Still, it's a long way from there to turning Mitsubishi into a company where over half of its sales come from electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids. Mitsu's plans for expanding its electric line-up are nothing if not ambitious. In addition to rolling out the i in more countries, with nationwide U.S. sales pushed up to the middle of 2012, there are several more electric vehicles in the works.
Coming for 2013 is an plug-in version of the Outlander Sport to be followed by an electric model based on the Evolution XI concept. Mitsubishi then plans to add another small electric vehicle based on the Mirage, and eventually to create a plug-in Evo sedan. The timeframe for all these electric vehicles is aggressive when compared with the slow pace of EV introductions to date. However, since Mitsubishi sells over a million vehicles a year (54,000 in the U.S.), aggressive moves are what it will take to hit the 50 percent EV target in the next eight years.
The Mitsubishi i has been priced at $29,125 for the U.S. market ($21,625 after federal tax credit). Its specifications are considerably different from either the Japanese or Euro-spec i-MiEV. The vehicle is larger and faster while getting around 85 miles to a charge. At 112 mpg equivalent, the Mitsubishi i will top the charts for fuel economy among 2012 vehicles.