The plan: Drive one of Mitsubishi's i-Miev electric cars from San Francisco to Sacramento. But there were two things wrong. No. 1, the i-Miev is based on Mitsubishi's i model, a Japanese Kei-class car designed for cities and not the length of high-speed freeway we would drive into California's Central Valley. No 2, it is 85 miles from San Francisco to Sacramento and Mitsubishi puts the i-Miev's best range at 80 miles.
We can solve one of these problems with a stop at a new Eaton rapid charger in Vacaville, about 55 miles outside of San Francisco. That charger should bring the i-Miev's batteries to an 80 percent charge in 25 minutes, reminding us that "rapid" is a relative term. Mitsubishi scheduled a lunch during the recharge stop, as five i-Mievs would need to take turns at the single charging station.
We were presented with a small number of i-Mievs, various test cars that had been brought over to California from Japan, all with right-hand drive. Our first lesson in right-hand drive is that you turn on the windshield wipers to signal a turn.
Bigger on the inside
At a little more than 11 feet long and less than 5 feet wide, the i-Miev is a tiny car; however, it is surprisingly roomy inside thanks to its high roofline. We imagined zipping around the dense urban streets of San Francisco, parking with ease at any spare bit of curbing and slaloming down narrow streets. But no, our route plan would put us amongst tractor-trailer rigs thundering down a multilane blacktop at speeds of about 65 mph. … Read more