It looks like the Mitsubishi i-MiEV is completely out of juice. News outlet Nikkei reports that Mitsubishi will completely end production of its tiny electric car this year. While the i-MiEV had been discontinued in the U.S. for a few years already, it was apparently still on sale elsewhere. That didn’t mean it was doing well, as Nikkei notes that global sales were only a little over 30,000 units over its lifetime.
It’s not hard to see why the i-MiEV struggled. While its kei-car size and funky styling made it a unique city car, it was compromised in other ways. It only made 66 horsepower and had an official range of 62 miles. While the limited range was augmented somewhat by DC fast charging capability, but it didn’t take long for competitors to launch larger, more powerful, longer-range cars for not a whole lot more money. And the gulf between the i-MiEV only expanded over the years.
According to Nikkei, the reason the i-MiEV went so long unchanged was a lack of funding and resources. But now that Mitsubishi is part of the Renault-Nissan Alliance, the news outlet reports that there will be a successor to the bubbly EV co-developed with Nissan to be launched in 2023.
Whether this next small electric Mitsubishi appears in the U.S. seems like a toss-up. We wouldn’t have expected the kei-car based i-MiEV to have been brought here originally, simply because of the cost of making such a tiny car pass safety regulations, let alone appeal to American buyers that like size. Those issues haven’t changed, and if anything, American buyers are even more keen on trucks and SUVs than before. But maybe if fuel economy and emissions regulations get stiff enough, Mitsubishi might see a benefit to offering a full EV here, even if it’s an odd size.