The enlargement of small cars in America is no secret and no surprise – it’s been happening for years. Part of it is the American assumption that bigger = better, but changing safety regulations also have to be taken into account.
Because of the safety regulations, foreign small cars adapted to the American market can’t escape enlargement either. Mitsubishi’s i-MiEV, tiny and cute in its native Japan so it can navigate the super-narrow city streets and alleys (sometimes barely an inch wider than the tiny car itself and that is not an exaggeration), will be bigger and heavier in order to comply with American safety standards. It will also be called the Mitsubishi i, rather than i-MiEV.
The i-MiEVs meant for North American consumption will be produced in Mitsubishi’s Mizushima plant, where the most visible evidence of their intended market will be the bigger bumpers. Much of the Japanese news on the subject reads as somewhat indignant that the Americanized i-MiEV will sport front and rear bumpers 11 inches longer and just over 4 inches wider than the original, although whether that’s due to it spoiling the lines of the car or just that it’s getting changed at all isn’t really clear.
The new specifications for the i also include an advanced air bag system which will detect passenger seat location and use that to control how far the bag expands, as well as tire air pressure monitors and other (unspecified) safety features. The engine torque has also been increased to improve performance, although speed limits and driver behavior inside most cities are more or less comparable across both markets.
The i will reach the American west coast (and Hawaii) by late November, with plans to offer it for sale across the rest of the U.S. and also in Canada by the end of 2012.
Source | Image: Green Car View.