What happens to an electric car with low range and poor sales in a climate of low gas prices? It fizzles. According to Green Car Reports, model-year 2017 will be the last for the Mitsubishi i-MiEV.
The bubble-shaped electric car went on sale in the U.S. as a 2012 model and hadn't changed much over the years. Although it made news as the first mass-produced electric car, going on sale in Japan in 2009, the i-MiEV never took off. In 2014, just 196 were sold in the U.S., which fell to 115 units in 2015 and then to just 20 in 2016, according to Mitsubishi.
The combination of anemic range and falling gas prices were likely motivators to pull the plug; the i-MiEV is EPA rated to get only 59 miles of range, much less than competitors like the Nissan Leaf (107 miles of range) and the Chevrolet Bolt EV (238 miles). Its crude road manners also didn't help. In his review, Cars.com Executive Editor Joe Wiesenfelder stopped just short of calling it a glorified golf cart, saying it "feels dinkier and less refined" than rivals.
Mitsubishi would not comment on any electrification plans for its future vehicles, but a plug-in version of the Outlander SUV is coming. The hybrid originally debuted at the 2016 New York International Auto Show with a tentative fall 2016 on-sale date, but it hasn't yet hit dealerships in the U.S.