Mitsubishi CEO Osamu Masuko is focusing the company’s efforts to its strengths in the US. “We are strong in SUVs and four wheel drives,” he says. “And that is what we would like to focus on as core models in the U.S. market. We have changed direction. We are going to allocate more resources to the areas where we are strong in the U.S.” That statement went along with the announcement that the oft delayed Outlander PHEV would finally make it to America in 2016. Mitsibishi also says it will bring a new electric SUV to the US in 2017.
This latest lurch in marketing strategy means the tiny, all-electric Mitsubishi i-MiEV will be dropped from Mitsubishi’s product line up in the US.
The Mitsubishi i-MiEV is a classic example of a car that was in the wrong place at the wrong time. It started life as a Kei car in Japan. Kai cars are typically small enough to maneuver through Japan’s congested cities. Japanese tax laws make them very affordable if the engine size is limited to under 700 cc’s. For some reason, when the whole electric car thing was getting off the ground in ‘states right around 2010, and Mitsubishi thought it would be a great idea to rip the little gas engine out of its Kei car and replace it with a 66 horsepower electric motor and a 16 kWh battery.
The resulting car might have been great in Japan but it was a lousy idea for America. By many accounts (including our own), the car’s range was much too short/variable for driving here. What little range it had was severely compromised if the driver chose to turn on either the cabin heater or the air conditioning. Stories began to appear of people bundling up in coats, hats, gloves, and scarfs to drive their i-MiEVs in the winter because they couldn’t get very far if they turned the heater on.
Although there were a number of updates to the Mitsubishi i-MiEV in 2014 after a hiatus in 2013, these failed to make any significant progress. Now, however, the car isn’t getting any more updates and will soon be gone for good … and there are few who will miss it. Even Jay Leno– who seems to have one of everything!- doesn’t want one in his garage.
Source: Mitsubishi, via Autoblog.