When I purchased the car, I was one of the first people in Victoria to adopt this cutting-edge technology. In the year of ownership I have informed Times Colonist readers of my experience — good and bad — of living with an electric vehicle.
I have received numerous emails from readers, with questions, discussions and encouragement.
But it’s time to move on to yet another adventure, so my MiEV has to go.
Apart from my car, Mitsubishi sold 195 other MiEVs across Canada in 2012. Nissan did a little better with the Leaf, finding homes for 240 of them. Chevrolet was the biggest winner, delivering 1,225 of the extended-range Volt.
All told, that makes 1,661 individuals or organizations driving zero-emissions vehicles in Canada. It’s a good start, but represents a fraction of one per cent of the vehicles sold in Canada. For perspective, consider Honda delivered 64,962 Civics last year.
But Canadians also bought 3,371 gasoline-electric Toyota Prius hybrids in the same period. When you add up all the other hybrid vehicles sold by other manufacturers, you can see how all-electric cars generated more excitement than they actually delivered.
Are electric cars here to stay? Absolutely. Will they get to the same numbers as hybrids? Not anytime soon.
The biggest drawback is range. Unless an EV owner has access to a second car, trips over 120 kilometres (in the Mitsu’s case) are out of the question. The infrastructure to recharge EVs is beginning to emerge but is in its infancy. Charging stations accessible to the public are limited to businesses that reserve them for their guests or clients. A few shopping centres have begun to install charging points for shoppers. But what happens when the two available are taken when you need a boost?
Promised Level 3 chargers — commercial high-speed chargers than can charge an EV to 80 per cent in 20 minutes — have so far failed to materialize. These chargers are supposed to be the equivalent of gas stations, charging an EV quickly.
There is better news on the home front. Developers have begun to offer buyers of new condos the option of installing charging points on underground parking spaces. But at $5,000 a pop, they are not cheap.
If you can live with range limitations, an EV is great on the pocketbook. I have driven 8,000 kilometres on my car. At an estimated cost of 0.015 cents per kilometre, I calculate I have used $120 worth of electricity to drive my car. If I was driving a conventional, gasoline-powered car, the cost would be around 0.15 cents a kilometre, or $1,200 worth of gas. In my case, I have saved $1,080 in the year of ownership.
The other detriment to sales is the cost of the vehicle. My car new cost $34,698. The B.C. government offers a $5,000 incentive for clean cars, so the net cost was reduced to $29,698. That incentive, by the way, expires March 31.
But $29,698 will also buy two conventional economy cars. You save on gas with an EV, but the payback might be a decade or more away.
But there are advantages to offset that premium: As my car was new, there was no cost in vehicle maintenance. But the person who buys my car will also have little or no maintenance to speak of, either. No oil changes, no tune-ups, no transmission to adjust, etc. Only normally wearing parts, such as tires and windshield-wiper blades, would need replacing.
While it may be the end of the road for my car, there is one more story to write about: its resale value.
With only 196 vehicles sold in a year, there probably haven’t been that many Mitsubishi MiEVs offered as a used car. It will certainly be a first for Victoria. I will soon find out how much interest there is for a used electric car.
Just to be clear: I purchased this car with my own money to write this series. There has been no financial incentive by the manufacturer or local dealer to influence my opinion. I will offer the car to the public. If it doesn’t sell within a reasonable period of time, I will sell it to a dealer.
I will be sad to see it go.
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