As of yesterday Mitsubishi have sliced the price of the i-MiEV by $6,700 (Japan only at present) in response to the unprecedented low sticker price of the Leaf ($25,250 USD after a US Federal discount).
The Mitsubishi i-MiEV’s new price of $42,130 is getting closer to the Leaf’s but it has a long way to go to get anywhere near it’s competitor. Mitsubishi will have to think long and hard about it’s product if it wants to stay in the ballgame.
The i-MiEV is also on the back foot with it’s small size and lack of features compared to the Leaf. While neither vehicle is available for purchase in the USA yet, the i-MiEV can be bought in Japan for around $30,700 USD after subsidies.
While local Japanese cities will provide a useful proving ground for their vehicles, Europe and North America will eventually be the major source of sales for both Japanese firms.
Compared to the $109,000 USD Tesla Roadster, a small 240-mile-range electric sports car, both the Leaf and the i-MiEV are comparatively cheap, but they’ll have to be a lot cheaper before people run into showrooms with their checkbooks.
There’s also the issue of battery technology versus vehicle range. 100 years ago the American auto manufacturer Baker produced general electric vehicles running on primitive batteries which could travel 100 miles between recharges. Yet today, despite monumental leaps in battery technology and capacity, both cars have been fitted with the same distance-per-charge as electric vehicles from 1909.
Mitsubishi has not announced if pricing will drop for the i-MiEVs sold outside of Japan yet, but it’s almost inevitable. Nissan has started quite a price war with Mitsubishi fighting back. What will happen in 2011 when another handful of electric cars are released is anyone’s guess.
They’ll have to woo buyers with at least two things before electric cars take off however: better pricing, and better range.