Mitsubishi: No “Next Gen” For i-MiEV. Will Focus On PHEVs In US Market

2 years ago by Jay Cole 13

Mitsubishi Has No Future Plans For The i-MiEV

In the wake of the bankruptcy of American Suzuki Motor Corp., a lot of focus of has been put on the perceived next weakest player in the US auto market, Mitsubishi.

For its part, Mitsubishi says it has “no intention” of leaving the US.  Quite the contrary actually.

Mitsubishi Chief Osamu Masuko And The i-MiEV

After seeing its US lineup thin over the past several years, Mitsubishi says two new product offerings will finally hit the dealerships in 2013, and the company expects to increase sales by 45%.

It is worth noting that a 45% increase would only be about 80,000 vehicles (Mitsu is estimated to sell about 55,000 this year), and that would still be down significantly from the 345,111 they sold in the US just 10 years ago.

Leading the Mitsubishi-revival will be the redesigned Outlander in July, and the company will also start importing the Mirage in September.

What will not be helping Mitsubishi re-establish itself in the US market is the i-MiEV.

About a month ago, we wrote that Mitsubishi Motors president, Osamu Masuko seemed to be distancing the company from the i-MiEV.  And even though at the time he was blaming poor i-MiEV sales on everything from the economy in Europe to the high currency trade on the Yen, Mr. Masuko seemed like he was signalling the end was coming.

A Discovery Channel Documentary Shows The i-MiEV On The Production Line

While speaking about Mitsubishi US comeback plan to Automotive News, the Mitsu boss said Mitsubishi no longer plans a successor to the current i-MiEV, and that the company feels that traditional hybrids and plug-in hybrids will now take the stage over pure electric vehicles.

“Rather than EVs, we have greater expectations for plug-ins in the United States.”

 

Osamu Masuko Talks Up Extended Range Outlander PHEV (Shown Here Plugging In Concept SUV Earlier)

The i-MiEV has sold 469 copies this year in the US, and despite a recent push by Mitsubishi to promote the car, including a reduction of the lease rate to peak customer’s interest, Mitsubishi has failed to sell at least 40 i-MiEVs in any of the past 5 months.

Mr. Masuko said that the Outlander plug-in hybrid crossover, with an expected all-electric range of about 22 miles (EPA), will go on sale in the US in January of 2014, and also that the new Mirage will get the electric vehicle treatment, but not to expect it in the US.  (we will see the gas version in September of 2013)

While we lament the loss of any electric vehicle, considering the amount of competition that is present (and en route) to the US market, the ultra-small, and not-so-cheap i-MiEV really did not have much of a future here, so we feel Mitsubishi’s decision is a good one.

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13 responses to "Mitsubishi: No “Next Gen” For i-MiEV. Will Focus On PHEVs In US Market"

  1. Lee says:

    On the bright side, U.S. i-MiEV owners now have a collectors item on their hands.

  2. vdiv says:

    “Help me, Mitsubishi Wan Kenobi, you are my only hope!”

    The two issues with the iMiEV are the price and the looks (i.e. the proverbial Golf cart, which it is not) and both can be fixed. The iMiEV is far more practical as a vehicle than say a SmartFor2 ED or Renault Zoe or Twizy.

    It is sad to see it go.

    1. Jay Cole says:

      I share your sentiment. For the longest time I really though I would own a i-MiEV.

      Before there was EVs on the road my mantra was “I will buy any electric car with 4 seats that can be serviced inside its electric range.”

      If not for all the delays and hiccups (most likely die to the company’s financial situation and US safety regs), Mitsubishi was going to be that car…they were the only player.

    2. backstroke says:

      Care to explain how an iMiEV is more practical than a Renault ZOE?

  3. Jackson says:

    Must’ve stopped paying attention — where did the “jellybean” iMiev go? Perhaps advertising would have helped?

    On the other hand, this kind of thing seems to lend veracity to the philosophy behind the Fisker Karma and GM Volt approach to EVs: neither fish nor foul (but with the advantages of both). I suspect the LEAF may eventually suffer the same fate (in the US).

  4. Jackson says:

    Jay,

    Please consider adding an “edit” feature. I’ve gotten spoiled …

    Thx

  5. Open-Mind says:

    Pulling the plug already? Sure, the “i-MiEV” had a stupid name and was slow, expensive, and ugly. But on the bright side, its lack of range gave potential owners a good excuse not to drive it.

    1. danpatgal says:

      Your comment isn’t very “Open-Minded”, is it? We have an iMiev, use it for all our day to day driving, it’s quite quick off the line (faster than any econobox – in which it is certainly classed), and quite comfortable. We like it a lot and I’m sad to see them pulling back. But I do agree that the looks and steep price, even if it is still the cheapest OEM EV you could get, didn’t really convince me that this was the car that my neighbors would be clamoring for after I got it. But, that’s mostly because they just don’t know what they’re missing, they’re very risk averse, and few have a long term oulook on the decisions they make in life. Time will tell if indeed my long term outlook will pay off.

      1. Jay Cole says:

        I think if it does the job that you need it to do than you don’t have to defend your purchase.

        If a kei-sized EV is all you need, and you are not planning on any huge outings, then the i-MiEV (and its cheapest in segment pricepoint) makes a lot of sense.. In the end, it seems there just wasn’t enough buyers to justify the development money needed to have a 2nd generation.

        1. danpatgal says:

          Jay … yeah, I know. I just get tired of the golf-cart ugly expensive comments about the iMiev. The “market” is skewed by fear, propaganda, vanity and greed … that’s why it didn’t succeed.

  6. GeorgeS says:

    Oh well. It’s called survival of the fittest.

  7. evnow says:

    Too little, too late. Sad story of Mitsu i.

    OTOH, I’m very interested in Outlander PHEV. I feel that is a better car for us than the Energi – but would have to wait another year. Moreover, that would also be the time for me to replace my leased Leaf …

  8. SSS says:

    As much as I love my Leaf, it will be my last unless Nissan changes and aggressively supports customers with battery problems. As it looks now, Nissan continues to market to buyers who know nothing about problems that Nissan has been made well aware, yet does nothing to correct. In most cases, the Leaf owners are stuck with EVs that give shorter and shorter range as the days go by, beginning with cars that ideally had only about 80 miles driving when they were new.
    Nissan Leaf sales have sagged in its 2nd year and will follow iMev in decreasing market share if Nissan continues to fail to support its customers with these very real problems.