Project Journal

Six Month EV Review – Shocking!
by Robert Fortunato on November 11th, 2013 14 Comments

It has been six months and 5000 miles since we purchased our Mitsubishi i-miev all electric vehicle.  The long and short of it is that we love it!  We enjoy driving it more than we expected and the cost of ownership savings will pay for the car in its 100K lifespan.

For the price tag of $21K after rebates and tax credits, we preferred the styling/value/driving experience over other similar fully electric vehicles that are currently for sale (we did not consider lease only vehicles – see “Who Killed the Electric Car”).  LOVE the Tesla S, but it didn’t fit with the story of the Green Idea House in terms of affordability. 

The things we like about the car:

  • It drives like a sports car
    • It is fast off the line and tops out at 82 on the freeway
    • The battery pack under the seats allows you to take a corner at 40mph! 
    • The “B” mode shifter option gives max acceleration and deceleration so it is fun to drive with mostly “one pedal ” driving – similar to the Tesla
  • No gas and virtually no maintenance – We are on Edison’s Time Of Use EV (TOUEV) program that lets us charge the car at night for 10 cents/kwh with our Eaton charging station.  The car’s battery capacity is 16kwh so it costs us just $1.60 to go 60 miles.  Our other car gets about 20mpg, so at $4/gallon it costs $12 to go 60 miles.  Net savings of $10.40 every 60 miles.   That means in the 5,000 miles we have driven the car we have saved $867.00 and have no oil, spark plugs, air filters…for maintenance.
  • Carpool lanes – with our white carpool sticker we zoom past the traffic and will do so until 2019 when the stickers expire.  That alone is worth $20K in LA!
  • No Emissions or burning of fossil fuels – We are not pumping carcinogens into the air every time we start and drive our car.  We are not contributing to the contamination of our environment through the mining and burning of fossil fuels.  As you can see from our bill(below), our Solar World PV panels more than offset the electrical consumption.
  • No smell – when we get back into our gas powered vehicle, we now notice how much the petrochemicals (both burnt and unburnt) smell.  It is nice not having to inhale gas fumes at the pump as well.
  • Lots of airbags – it is a small and light car, so safety is a concern; but the car does have lots of safety equipment built in.


Things that we have adapted to:

  • Different styling – For aerodynamic reasons, the car has a heavily raked windshield and egg like shape.  At first we weren’t wild about the styling, but we put some racing stripes on it and it has grown on us.  People stop us all the time saying they like the car and want to know where to get one.
  • Planning trips – the car only goes 62 miles, but that covers 95% of the driving that we do on a regular basis.  We have changed how we think of our cars.  Instead of this car is yours and the other is mine, we ask “where are you going today?” and use the car that best fits the purpose.   Plugshare is a great program we use to plan trips and find charging stations, when needed.  The only time we have ever run out is when we were testing the full range of the battery and pushing it to its range limit (63.5 miles).  Luckily we ran out of juice in front of a friend’ s house who allowed us to plug in for a few minutes so we could get back home.
  • Freeway miles use a lot of energy – Going over the speed limit on the freeway drains the battery much faster than driving surface streets.


Things that could be improved:

  • The interior and the gauges are a bit sparse.  It would be nice to have separate countdown, trip and mileage odometers, especially when you have to gauge how far things are and how far you have gone already.
  • The NAV system should ID charging stations and give more info on distance in relation to how much charge you have left in the car.


Watt’s Next??

We have been charging the car almost exclusively at the house since July and it still hasn’t made a meaningful dent our energy bill in relation to how well the Solar World solar panels are working and how efficient the house is operating (see bill below). 

So it is time to start thinking about replacing our other car.  Before we bought the i-miev we had not replaced our cars in a long time.  We made a commitment when we bought the last round of cars that our next cars would have plugs on them.  We never thought it would take so long to get there!

We would like our next vehicle to be a Plug in Hybrid EV (PHEV) SUV to replace our Rav-4.  We would like to use it for road trips or anytime we want to go out of range for the i-miev.  Surprisingly there are few choices in this category, but Mitsubishi has a couple of good choices coming out:

We look forward to reviewing them.

Please let us know if you have any questions/ comments as you are considering replacing your gas powered vehicles.  We will never go back to a car without a plug!

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14 Responses to “Six Month EV Review – Shocking!”

  1. Victor Orozco says:

    Great write-up.

  2. gino fortunato says:

    the racing strip is a great touch. Do you ever have hot rod’s try to race you?

  3. gino fortunato says:

    I realize this may not be feasible, but do you really NEED a second car? Can bicycling, public transportation and car sharing services get you to the point where you need the second car so rarely that renting a car for long distance runs (i.e. to San Francisco, the mountains, etc becomes economical? Just a thought…..

    • Robert says:

      You pose a very good question. There are options for the long haul driving and the options do include renting the service of transport vs buying the asset (e.g. zip car, car sharing…). Seems to make sense, but those options still don’t have a plug on them!

      Given the Green Idea House project has the opportunity to demonstrate the most practical, useful and affordable technologies; we feel obliged to help move that market transformation forward. Therefore, we will use the old gas burner only for long haul driving until we find the right fit for a purchase – or see if the car share initiative can become more sustainable for long haul driving.

  4. Lucas says:

    I own an i-MiEV and can concur with your findings. I’ve owned mine for close to 18 months now and drive it everyday to work for a total 60 miles a day, mostly on the expressway. I just keep my speed down and arrive home with plenty of range to spare. The sparse interior is actually an excellent canvas for those that like to be creative with their vehicles. I’ve customized my interior by adding fabric door panels, changing the console color with 3M 1080 Vinyl and adding some wood veneer to the passenger side dash board.

    • Robert says:

      Hi Lucas, Glad you are enjoying the car. More people are discovering how great they are every day.

      Just curious, how did you hear about our site?

  5. Lucas says:

    Robert – Facebook! Going into my second winter, this car is the best!

  6. Lisa McKenna says:

    We leased a Chevy Volt a year ago. While it has a few blind spots. It is comfortable. Love the HOV sticker, use the carpool lane all the time. 80% of the time I can go on charge alone 44 miles/charge. It is nice to have the gas option. When I head up to the city(50 miles one way)t just switches to gas. I do not have to worry about a charging station. I do use ChargePoint stations with their convenient swipe card as my city (Los Gatos) has quite a few in our town.
    I am with you on wanting an SUV, we are waiting for one too! That will be our next car but for now enjoying this one. The best thing is not having to go to the gas station anymore (or at least not very often), not one of my favorite chores.

    • Robert says:

      Hi Lisa,

      Glad to hear you are enjoying the Volt. It is great not going to the pump or going in for maintenance. Did you consider having one of the cars a 100% EV? We find with two cars we can use one for long range and the other more local. We use the local EV for 90% of our driving.

      Thanks for posting!


  7. Nick Tedesco says:

    Great case study. Electric vehicles and solar power are definitely the wave of the near future….and what a combination they are. Thanks for sharing this. I just makes me even more excited about our cleaner future.

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