Several of us have been discussing the range of the Mitsubishi i-MiEV electric car in a Google+ community. What started as a simple query, “What kind of range do you guys get? 62 EPA miles?” made me realize that I rarely think about our i’s range in terms of miles. Instead, I am simply concerned with whether the car can take me where I want to go (and it almost always can).
When I first started driving the i-MiEV, I was obsessed with range. The car is “only” rated for 62 miles and that distance can be significantly reduced by highway speeds (more air friction), running the heater, and running the air conditioner. I would focus on the battery meter and carefully count how many bars remained (16 bars is a full charge).
The car also has a “range reserve meter” which estimates how far you can drive based on current battery level and how you have been driving for the last 15 miles. I would keep the range reserve meter in view all the times and be vigilant about how far away from home I was.
Candy and I have been using our Mitsubishi i-MiEV almost exclusively for the last 2½ months. Sometime in November, without even consciously realizing it, I stopped fretting about range in miles. It soaked in that the car would go where I wanted to go and get me home again, and that’s good enough. When we have a trip to make, we get in the car, drive, and come home. When we get back, I plug the car in so that it can recharge. Simple. The car is always ready whenever I want to drive it.
Sure, I still look at the battery charge meter and I still track my mileage because I’m a geek and I like numbers. In case you are curious, I have tracked mileage for 1455 miles (about the distance from St. Louis to Phoenix) and it has cost us just $60.52 in electricity, an average of 4.2 cents per mile.
Driving an electric car has become comfortably normal. A typical trip for us is to a fast food joint for lunch during the work day, with side stops for an errand or two: round trip distance of 5-10 miles. Even with the winter temperatures which make us use the heater, the car recharges in under two hours. That means that it is fully charged well before the end of the workday and is ready for whatever we need to do in the evening.
A longer trip might be to Sweet Tomatoes for dinner, a 20 mile highway trip, with a stop at Trader Joes or Target for provisions on the way home. Even this 40-50 mile round-trip distance, with the heater running, is well within the i-MiEV’s range. We just get in the car and go, plugging it in to recharge when we get home again.
As a nice side benefit of charging the car at home, I never need to “stop for gas” when I am going somewhere. I never worry about whether the tank is full enough for the next trip. I never have to build an extra 10 minutes into my schedule for a stop at a gas station.
How far does our i-MiEV electric car go? Farther than I need to drive for most trips. It does not really matter whether it can go one mile father or a million miles farther. The car goes and I enjoy the trip.