What I DON’T like about the iMiEV

by Ben N on December 7, 2015

IMG_6707

In my last blog entry, I told you what I like about the iMiEV electric car. In this entry, I’ll tell you what I DON’T like about it….

The good news is that most of my dislikes are actually rather minor. That said, here we go.

HEAT
The heater in the car isn’t that great. What’s interesting about it is that the car has a LIQUID heater. It heats fluid, which is then pumped to a traditional heater core, wherein a fan blows the heat out. It’s exactly like a regular gasoline car heater system. The only difference is that all the heat comes from the battery pack. Unfortunately, that also means that the estimated range available takes a hit. On the main energy gauge on the car, I can actually see a jump up when I turn the heat on. I also noticed that my legs tend to get cold faster than in most gas cars. I think part of that may be that there isn’t a 190 degree F. engine on the other side of the firewall.

Some of the limitation of the heating system is overcome by the nifty “pre-heat” mode, allowing the car to heat up ahead of time from the wall, but that does NOT help on a return trip from somewhere that wall power isn’t available. The seat heater is also quite nice, but is ONLY on the driver’s side. No nice butt-warmer available for the passenger!

The limitations of the heating system, and how it negatively effects range, seems like a number one topic on the iMiEV forums.

FAN NOISE
When the HVAC is running at a high speed, it gets loud fast, especially the last two clicks. There’s also the MAX button, which kicks the fan into overdrive, and it’s CRAZY LOUD! The same fan also runs at that speed when using the CHAdeMO quick-charging feature. I’ve heard of some other iMiEV drivers complaining about fan noise, but I think mine may actually be off-balance, or perhaps a rodent managed to stuff a kernel of corn or something in there.

ROAD NOISE
While the car itself is very quiet (no engine noise!) road noise gets a bit loud at freeway speeds. It’s noticeable at about 50 miles per hour, and gets louder the faster you go.

Hard to reach Odometer button
The car has minimal instrumentation, which for the most part is nice. The instrument panel is not cluttered. However, the small right circle on the dash is for not only the odometer and trip odometer, but also for the important Range Remaining display, temperature, and  a few other pieces of information. The only way to change between these is to reach around behind the steering wheel to a small “trip-reset” style button. It is neither easy or convenient to press while driving. A different button on the steering wheel or somewhere else would be a big improvement.

Not great on the freeway
The car doesn’t have a great freeway feel. It’s definitely more suited for in-town and lower speed use. Driving fast drains the battery quicker, and it feels “short-wheelbase” on the interstate. I could feel crosswinds more than I would in the Prius as well.

Lack of small storage spaces
I might be spoiled by our Prius. It has all sorts of great places to store CDs, maps, beverages, keys, etc. Heck, it even has TWO glove boxes! The iMiEV has very few small storage spaces. There is no center console. The holders in the doors are very small – handy for maybe maps, that’s about it. Other than the glove box itself, there’s very few places to stash smaller items.
UPSIDE: Who needs to store CDs when you can just automatically rip them all into the stereo’s hard-drive?

IMG_6708Not Enough Cup-Holders!
OK, this one might sound weird. I have often joked about how many cup-holders American cars have. I admit that I drink coffee while driving. I like coffee, and I like my travel coffee cup. What I don’t like is that this car has a total of 3 cup-holders. In the front, a cup-holder flips down in front of either side air vent. For the back seat, there is one cup holder just behind the hand-brake. That cup holder is too far back to be useful to the driver. I also happen to be right handed. I would like a cup holder TO MY RIGHT. The driver’s cup holder is all the way on the left. This is going to take some getting used to. At least my coffee cup fits. The cup holders are really designed for 12 ounce soda cans. Forget about having a place to set your Mega-Gulp!
The first time I ever got to drive a Mitsubishi iMiEV was at the Mother Earth News Fair in Puyallup, Washington, USA. (I believe that was the 2012 fair.) I had fun driving the car, but one of the first things I actually thought was “Great little car! Too bad it won’t sell in the States – not enough cup holders!”
The cup holder on the right side actually makes an excellent place to hang a litter bag.
UPSIDE: I’m sure I can learn to use a left-handed cup holder. Or if I want to get really crazy, 3D-print one and put it where I want it!

IMG_6575Uses a KEY!
Our Prius has a nice feature – keyless entry and start. You only need to have the key in your pocket to unlock the door just by touching the handle, and then just pressing a button to start the car. It’s a great feature, especially in the winter when a person may be wearing a coat, multiple layers of clothes, and heavy gloves. The iMiEV uses a KEY. It just feels so OLD-FASHIONED to actually have to put a key in the car and then crank it to the START position!
UPSIDE: First-World problem. The other car spoiled me.

IMG_6669Charge Port Location
The charge port is on the wrong side of the car. The driver’s seat is on the left, and the charge port is on the right. That means that the user always has to walk around the car to plug and unplug it. Not the end of the world, but inconvenient. If the car is parked in a garage, it can be a little tight walking around the car. Also, it’s pretty easy to forget to pop the charger port from inside the car. I then walk around the car, realize that I can’t open the port  from the outside (and there’s no remote for it) so I have to walk back around the car to the driver’s side, pop the latch, and THEN go plug the car in. Plugging in an EV should be easy. For me, there are times when it can be slightly inconvenient, or let’s just say that it could at least be improved on.
Most EVs and plug-in Hybrids tend to have the charge port on the driver’s side, often directly in FRONT of the driver’s door. On the Nissan LEAF, the charge port is right on front of the vehicle.

I believe that one of the reasons why the charge port is on the back right is because this car is based on a Japanese right-hand drive vehicle. On a car like that, the right IS the driver’s side! There’s a few other little quirks to this car that also seem to be a carry-over from a right-hand drive system. The hood release is under the far right passenger knee space. It took me forever to find the hood release the first time I looked for it! Also, the battery service/emergency disconnect is under the front left seat.

IMG_6670Charge Port Size/Shape/Opening Distance
At the charge port itself, the outside sheet metal cover swings one way, and the inner plastic J1772 cover swings the other. That makes for a somewhat narrow opening to plug in the power connector. (It also drives me crazy when a house has a front door and storm door that are hinged on opposite sides! It just makes them hard to use!)
I’m right-handed, the opening swings to the right, and it has a large metal hook on it. There’s barely enough room at the opening for me to hold the J1772 plug and have my hand between the plug and the closure of the cover. I haven’t scraped my hand yet, but it always feels like I’m about to. If I were left-handed, or if the cover swung open the other way, or just swung open further, it wouldn’t be an issue.
On the CHAdeMO quick-charge port, not only is the cover hinged on the left, but it’s also considerably LARGER than the J1772 side. Even while I was using the the CHAdeMO in the cold while wearing heavy gloves, there were no issues with the port.

 IMG_6709STEERING WHEEL
The steering wheel doesn’t tilt. It’s in an okay position, but sometimes, it would be nice if I could tilt it down just one notch. Also, the steering wheel has three spokes, one of which goes straight down. When I drive in a “casual” position, I usually rest my right hand on the 6-o’clock of the steering wheel. I can’t do that in the iMiEV.

 
HEADRESTS

The headrest in this car are HUGE! Not only that, but they tilt oddly forward on a sharp angle.
I have to tilt my seat back one more click than I would otherwise, just to keep the headrest from pushing my head forward. The headrests of the back set are also so big that they block quite a bit of my view out the back window!
UPSIDE: The headrests are easily removable, and that also allows the back seat to fold truly flat. The front headrest is  fine ever since I adjusted my seat tilt.

Locked or Unlocked?
Most all cars that has locks that move sideways are color-coded, with orange showing in the unlocked position. This car doesn’t have that. Just by looking at the lock, you can’t easily tell if the door is locked or not.

NARROW
Most of the time this isn’t an issue. The car just isn’t very wide. However, when traveling with a passenger, it would be nice if there was a little more space in the middle. There’s no center console/arm-rest. If both people lean over at the same time to fasten their seat belts, their heads hit together and make a comedic coconut sound. The exact same thing happens in a Geo Metro. The simple answer is just to not buckle the seat belt at the same time as the passenger. It’s winter coat season right now, butI think this also may be less of an issue if everyone is wearing t-shirts instead of thick winter coats.
UPSIDE: Most of the time, I’m driving the car by myself, so it’s just not an issue

IMG_6662Snowflake Warning
The car beeps and flashes an icon in the shape of a snowflake when it’s cold out. Yes car, I know it’s cold out. Thank you so much for beeping and warning me about the fact that it is winter in Wisconsin. I already knew that. I posted about this on Facebook, and other people chimed in on the types of warnings their cars give when it’s cold out. Not even below freezing, just cold. Supposedly, this is to warn the driver that conditions exist wherein it might be possible for ice to form on bridges. Most annoying USELESS warning ever! Why not warn that rain or sunshine are also possible!? Stupid warning.

 TAKE IT OR LEAVE IT:
There’s also a few things that I don’t really care for that much one way or another, but I just wanted to mention. For example, the color. It’s white. Which is sort of blah. So many cars right now are white, silver, gray (grey for you outside the States) or some other lifeless color. I think the car looks very nice in black. Ideally, I would have liked to have gotten it the in Raspberry color. Some other versions of the car were available in other colors in the rest of the world. (Check out Gavin’s sweet red ride.) However, I got a good price on the car and it had all the options, so I’m not too worried about the color. According the insurance companies, white cars are the most visible and least likely to be in collisions. I suppose that repainting or adding decals aren’t out of the question either.
Perhaps I could add black cow spots.

Alloy Rims.
This car came with alloy rims, which are usually considered to be an upgrade. These rims look like something off a 1980′s concept car. If I had plain steel rims, at least I would have some options for cool cheap hub caps.

IMG_6711Interior Color
Alright, who thought that a warmish brown and a cool gray work together as an interior color? I mean, it’s not terrible, but it seems an odd color choice.

Navigation system.
The car included a GPS navigation system. Car GPS never seem to be nearly as good as the ones you can already have on a smart phone (which I have) or an aftermarket GPS, such as a Garmin (like we put in the Prius, even though it has a GPS.)
I would have been just fine if the car didn’t come with the navigation system.

Headlights
I really like all the lights on the car, BUT the headlights and dome lights are incandescent! Orange lights on a car now just look old-fashioned to me. On my Vectrix, ALL lights were LED with the exception of the headlamp, which looked out of place. Once I upgraded it with LED, it looked GREAT! I’ll probably do a little work in the future making some LED lighting upgrades to the car. I did see a car just like mine at an event where the owner did some nice LED hacks. It really made the car look good.

IMG_6710Weird Shift Pattern
The gear selector has an odd zig-zag shift pattern. To me, it is NOT intuitive whether the stick needs to be pulled left or right as it’s pushed and pulled. Also, at the gear selector, there is no light. So, at night, I simply have to wiggle the stick back and forth as push or pull it, then look at the dashboard to see what gear I’m in. I’m sure I’ll adjust to it soon enough, but it still feels a bit odd.

Overall, even the things that I don’t like about the car aren’t that major. The worst would be the range-limiting aspect of the heater, and the minor inconveniences of the charging port. And well, I still don’t love the cup holder.

So how does it compare when I put my likes of the car up against the dislikes? The LIKES win, hands-down. Overall, it’s a very likable little car. It does what I need it to do, and it does it extremely affordably, and without gasoline. Is it perfect for everyone? No.

Does it work for how I need it to? It sure does.

‘Til next time, stay charged up.
-Ben

 

{ 3 trackbacks }

Liking the iMiEV
December 7, 2015 at 5:31 pm
LED Lighting Upgrade!
January 1, 2016 at 12:14 pm
iMiEV Dislikes updated
June 1, 2016 at 10:52 am

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

1 John Bäckstrand December 8, 2015 at 5:16 am

All the cars Ive own, which is only 2 btw, had the “low temperature” warning and they were very cheap, very regular ICE cars. I wonder if its some kind of EU rule to have that warning…

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