Mitsubishi Sets $27,990 Price for Electric i Car, But Read Fine Print

By · April 22, 2011

Mitsubushi i cars on lot

Good news about EV affordability, but premium trim levels bring price close to Nissan LEAF

Mitsubishi announced Thursday that its “i” electric car—formerly named i-MiEV—will have an MSRP of $27,990 (excluding destination charges), making it the most affordable mass-market electric vehicle available to U.S. consumers. This price is for the base ES trim level.

The company begins taking orders today, with the first deliveries scheduled for January 2012. Prospective buyers will make a $299 deposit, plus $99 for a home inspection related to installation of charging equipment. Mitsubishi will waive the home electrical inspection fee for the first 2,000 potential buyers who sign up at Detailed information about pricing and the ordering process is described on that site and in a Mitsubishi press release.

"We want to penetrate this market and need to be competitive on pricing," said Yoichi Yokozawa, Mitsubishi’s North American chief executive, at the 2011 New York International Auto Show. After buyers take advantage of a $7,500 federal tax credit, the effective price is close to $20,490—dropping into the mid-teen range in California, where a $5,000 immediate rebate is available to purchasers of a pure electric car.

The i is a small electric car with about 80 miles range and a top speed of 80 miles per hour. Mitsubishi’s competitive price stands in sharp contrast to hefty price tags for other small EVs—such as the Smart ED that leases for $599 a month, and the Think City priced somewhere between $34,000 and $41,000. The Mitsubishi i is slightly larger than those two cars, and seats four passengers, where the Smart and Think are two-seaters.

Read the Fine Print

While the base level i sets a new lower benchmark for EV affordability, a closer look at features and trim levels shows a price relatively close to the LEAF (and probably the Ford Focus Electric)—vehicles with more space, power and range. Focus Electric pricing has not yet been announced.

The base model Mitsubishi i ES includes speed-sensitive electric power steering (EPS), LED rear tail lamps, driver seat heater, electric air conditioning with micron filter, remote keyless entry, 3-spoke sport steering wheel, an on-board recharging system with 120V portable 8 amp charging cable, and a 4 speaker, 100-watt AM/FM/CD audio system with MP3/WMA playback.

The price for the i climbs from $27,990 to $29,990, when adding a 360-watt, eight-speaker sound system, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, upscale upholstery, two-tone interior, 15-inch alloy wheels, and fog lamps. Add another $2,790 for the SE premium package—putting the price to $32,790—to get a navigation system, a rearview camera, Bluetooth, steering-wheel-mounted audio controls, and a quick-charge port. An available "Cold Zone" package will be offered on both the ES and SE trim levels of the Mitsubishi i for $150. It includes a battery warming system and heated outside mirrors.

The i SE package is 10 bucks more than the base-level Nissan LEAF SV, with an MSRP of $32,780, which offers a navigation system, Bluetooth, satellite radio, and stability/traction control. The LEAF SL goes to $33,720 when including a photovoltaic solar panel spoiler, rearview camera, automatic on/off headlights, cargo cover, and Homelink universal transceiver.

The key difference in cost between the two EVs could be the onboard quick charger, which is included in the Mitsubishi i’s $32,790 SE premium package—but the quick charge port is only available on the Nissan LEAF’s premium SL package at an additional $700, lifting the price to $34,720.

The other major distinction could be availability. Mitsubishi’s Yokozawa said the initial goal is to deliver about 2,000 units of the i, and later expand to between 20,000 and 30,000 units per year. Nissan is already delivering that quantity in the U.S., plans to steadily ramp up production, and aims to sell 500,000 units globally in the next few years.


· · 7 years ago

Still Brad, for $20,490($15k in ca!) after the tax credit this could really work so someone that wants it primarily as a low cost commuter. Including the quick charge as standard equipment is a great move for Mitsu. The people that but this are getting a nice deal.

· · 7 years ago

@Tom - I agree. It's a great price for a low cost commuter. Kudos to Mitsu for being competitive! At the same time, we should be very clear about what electric vehicles are available, with which features, at what price compared to other models in the market.

At the lowest price, it seems like you do NOT get the quick charger. For that, you need to bump it up to $32,790. Somebody correct me if I'm wrong. That's still less than the $34,720 you pay for QC with the LEAF.

If you can forgo the QC, and with a smaller 16 kWh battery, one could argue that the i is a better car to give up the QC, then it's a very affordable EV.

I guess what stacks up as the same price is the i with QC and the LEAF without it. Of course, the vehicle platform, range, and power are very different, with the LEAF getting the edge.

Regardless, it's great news that Mitsu came in strong with the price, making it a viable option, rather than Smart, Volvo, etc. which have jacked up the price beyond reason. More choice = better.

· eva in phoenix az (not verified) · 7 years ago

I called the customer service number on the preorder screen and this car will come with an 8year/100,000 mile warranty on the batteries. pretty awesome!

· · 7 years ago

I love the "i" but that 80 mile (really ~50 miles in the real world I live in) range is a deal breaker. I'd like to see a larger battery as an option.
It certainly beats the SmartED or Think by any measure though.

· Max Reid (not verified) · 7 years ago

Bravo Mitsu

28K for this 4-seater is very affordable price. For many whose daily commute is around 60 miles, this is an ideal car. Most families have only 1 or 2 kids and it should be ideal for them for their daily commute, weekend shopping, club, church friends place etc. Only when they go on long trip they can take their gasoline car.

It comes at the right time when the gas prices have crossed $3.84 / gallon.
This may be a serious competition to Leaf and will also force Ford to price Focus EV affordably. Looks like the competition for EV has started.

This may also force Hybrid prices to come down. Great News on Earth Day.

Thank you Brad Berman.

· · 7 years ago

I met with a dealer rep in Normal, IL today. I was also told about the 8 year/100K warranty. I agree with you Max, this is a very affordable commuter and around town car. My wife and I are considering for just this purpose. Probably 90% of our miles are her commute and running errands around town. It would sure be great to do that at 3-4 cents per mile instead of 20+ (and climbing!).

I asked about the potential of adding the fast-charge option at a later date (I wasn't sure how modular it is). I don't see the value now - until there is a lot more infrastructure, I'll just be charging at home. He was honest and said he didn't know. Anyone here know the mechanics of the fast-charge hardware?

· · 7 years ago


California Air Resources Board wants to drop to the $5K electric car incentive in half in 2012, so buy soon!

· · 7 years ago

@urtlking2jo -

Adding fast charge isn't all that big of a technical deal - fact of the matter is, all the expensive equipment for DC fast-charging sits in the parking lot, and the car just accepts the juice. So in theory, this could be added after the fact if they plan on it happening.

I love this little car, btw. I drove one a couple of years back and was quite impressed.

One thing missing from this great article, is the slow charge rate (Leaf, anybody?) of the L2 charger that it comes with. 9A regardless of 120V or 240V. Ug.

Still... how about this for a price comparison - I know many people in my town who plunked down $15k for a GEM. Yes, a 25 mph converted golf cart with no doors. Being able to get one of these for $15k is pretty dang amazing. They are low on frills, but they peg the needle on utility.

· · 7 years ago

Thanks darelldd - that's what I suspected about fast charging.

The other interesting "fact" (or at least hearsay) is that the dealership I've been talking to said that they were charging it from what they thought was a nearly dead battery in 6-8 hours on a standard 110 outlet. They just had a couple of L2 chargers installed in time for earth day, so he wasn't yet sure about the speed on a 220 outlet. I haven't done the math to determine if I think what he said is reasonable, but if it's true, that would make this car even more amazing in my book.

We're planning on my wife using it for an 80+ mile-per-day commuter (the university she's attending grad school at has offered to put in a 220 charger). Going from her '99 Alero, we're looking to move from $16+ per day to under $5 - the difference will almost make the car payment. In my opinion, this car makes sense to so many people. Efficiency should appeal to the eco types, the frugal types, and most of the spectrum in between.

One last thing - I'm 6'7" - and while I won't say I have generous space in the car, it's definitely got plenty of head room and the leg room isn't the worst I've driven (passenger side has plenty)!

· · 7 years ago

This is great news; there is finally going to be real competition for the LEAF at the low end!

@urtlking2jo: 6-8 hours would be the L2 charging time assuming 9A and a 16kWh battery. Plan on at least double that time at 120V.

· · 7 years ago

Yes, this really is good news. As one who drives a 16 year Saturn without such amenities as 8 speaker surround sound audio, leather trim or Bluetooth connectivity, I would consider the base iMiev to be quite adequate and the step-up options Mitsubishi announced to be bordering on luxury. One can imagine that well engineered fast charger interfaces will be brought to the market by 3rd party vendors, if OEMs won't include them on their entry level vehicles.

I remember a few months back that the US market iMiev (or "i") will be a bit different from that above photo. Basically wider (no doubt heavier) and with a sculpted front end . . .

· · 7 years ago

Was anyone actually able to pay the deposit? I tried, but the PayPal link wasn't working. I called and they said there were some problems with the web site.

When I try to login, it doesn't even accept my previous password. Trying to make this happen on Earth Day was perhaps too ambitious.

· · 7 years ago

I agree with ex-EV1 driver that the short range is a deal breaker for me. But I'm hoping that the competitive pricing will keep downward pressure on other EV prices (I'm concerned that Nissan will raise Leaf prices due to the strong yen). I remember a few years ago when the iMiEV — the car that first got me seriously thinking about an EV — was introduced in Japan at a price well north of $40K, so the price drop on the "i" really is a big deal. I hope it is a resounding success.

Meanwhile, it appears that Nissan and Ford are going to be fighting it out for my dollars next year...

· · 7 years ago

I was able to get in a reservation today, but using a credit card. The PayPal option still seems broken.

· · 7 years ago

With 16kwh battery, my guess would be about 65 miles in urban travel may be 50 miles EPA range. Should be still plenty for people with shortish commutes. I'd have bought it but for Leaf ....

· · 7 years ago

Look at Mitsu's schedule. Mitsu missed an opportunity to offer the car in non-Leaf areas and get some early sales. They are more than likely trying to ride Nissan's coat-tails, waiting for Nissan to do all the hardwork of co-ordinating with utilities and cities.

"The Mitsubishi i delivery schedule.
See when our remarkable EV will be available in your state.

Dates listed below are estimated and subject to change.

California, Hawaii, Oregon and Washington.
Finalize your Mitsubishi i order by: 10/1/11
Receive it by: 1/31/12

Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Virginia.
Finalize your Mitsubishi i order by: 1/1/12
Receive it by: 4/30/12

Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Kentucky, Minnesota, New Mexico, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas.
Finalize your Mitsubishi i order by: 8/1/12
Receive it by: 11/30/12

Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Utah, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.
Finalize your Mitsubishi i order by: 10/1/12
Receive it by: 1/31/13"

· Anonymous (not verified) · 7 years ago

I bought mine today I am so glad that the leadership in this country has changed from supporting big oil to doing that which is sustainable. $1.50 to charge the car. vs $80 per week this will be almost a free car.

· · 7 years ago

Bought yours? You meant put in a deposit, yes?

· Fat Tony (not verified) · 7 years ago

Just reserved it using paypal. It is working again. They must not have yet had 2000 reservations because the home eval was still free. Looks nice in black. I think the 85 mile range will be more than enough for me because the longest range I will need it for will be 50 miles round trip. The Leaf and Volt got good crash test ratings. I saw the pics for the i's crash test and it looked good to me but I did not see the rating. Overall a great price. EV's are going to overtake gas cars in price in 5 years mark my words. There is nothing inherently expensive about them except the batteries. It is sad that very few manufacturers are capitalizing on the university and government battery research in this country. We need jobs and they are just wasting opportunities and instead locating the EV factories close to airports so that we can have a steady supply of Asian batteries. Pitiful.

· · 7 years ago

@Fat Tony,
IIRC, Nissan was building a battery plant next to the assembly plant currently under construction in Tennessee. If that is the case, not all manufacturers will be importing batteries for US assembled EVs.

· · 7 years ago

@Fat Toney "We need jobs and they are just wasting opportunities and instead locating the EV factories close to airports so that we can have a steady supply of Asian batteries. Pitiful."

That is just made up, right ? it makes sense to make the batteries right near where the cars are assembled. Even LG is building factories here.

· holmeshybrid (not verified) · 7 years ago

I haven't been able to establish an account. I read that others had successfully done so. Any comments?

· Ron Smith (not verified) · 6 years ago

I just reserved one today, July 7th, and the home inspection fee was waved, so it seems there are still less than 2000 reserved. I am surprised by that. I am in California, and with the federal and state rebates the final price will be 17,990. I would have thought there would have been a practical stampede at that price.

· · 6 years ago

EVNOW, you're so right about missing the boat on offering in states that are still waiting for the Leaf! Many would have jumped at the opportunity.

· Dan G (not verified) · 6 years ago

I've had mine reserved for a couple of months now. I'm excited about the car, though I must admit I'd rather have a Ford Focus EV just based on appearances. But price may make the difference for me.

Has anyone in CA, HI, OR or WA had their home inspection yet? I have found very little information on the site, or anywhere, with any news or updates on the vehicle delivery, test drives, or inspections. I signed up in part because I felt it would come to Pennsylvania before any other OEM EV, but I'm not so sure that will come to fruition.

· Jay (not verified) · 6 years ago

Yep, that 16kwh battery pack might be reliable for more like 60 highway miles than 85, especially around hilly Seattle.
Being an EV hobbyist, I'm wondering how hard it'll be to set up for a range extension trailer. There's a jack pad on the rear axle that looks ideal for mounting a hitch, and here's hoping that the electronics won't make it too hard to accept a charge current while underway, probably at HV DC from a Manzanita Micro charger.

· · 6 years ago

"The i SE package is 10 bucks more than the base-level Nissan LEAF SV, with an MSRP of $32,780, which offers a navigation system, Bluetooth, satellite radio, and stability/traction control."

I just checked the Nissan site, the price for the Leaf SV is $35,200 MSRP...

I couldn't find any info on Mitsubishi's site about the price of the options. When you "build" the car and reserve it, it only lets you choose the two main styles. The i SE trim is $31,125.

The Mitsubishi site also says the Fed tax credit expires at the end of this year... Is that true?

· · 6 years ago

@geppert, When this article was written, the price for the LEAF was correct. Since then, Nissan raised the prices for the new 2012 models but made some options standard (to the ire of those who didn't want them).

With changes in exchange rates, Nissan is probably losing more money on the more expensive 2012 models than they were on the 2011s.

· Mike Szostech (not verified) · 6 years ago

Since this article was written, Mitsubishi has also adjusted their prices on the Mitsubishi i - In September, Mitsubishi raised the prices $1135 on both the base and the ES model of the Mitsubishi i.


· Edward (not verified) · 6 years ago

There are a few things to think out with the Mitsubishi . The standard 110 volt charger takes 22 hrs to charge the battery from a drained down battery. The 220 volt charger is another $1200 and you need a garage and your fuse box needs to be up to their stands. The warranty does not cover battery wear down . It only covers defects. The replacment cost for the battery needs to be told. When you use the heat or a/c the range drops. The battery capacity after a few years and replacment cost is my major concern.

· Ule (not verified) · 6 years ago

Another important change for the i - the QuickCharge option is now offered on the base ES model for $700. For now that puts it nearly $7500 below the price of any LEAF w/QuickCharge. Hopefully Nissan will follow suit and offer CHAdeMO on the SV trim level. If not, those who consider DC quick-charging a highly desirable option but don't need a lot of extra bells and whistles on their commuter car are going to find the i very compelling. That's why I'm buying it (hope to have it in the garage next month - we'll see).

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