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Mitsubishi i-MiEV most affordable all-electric car under $30,000

The Mitsubishi i-MiEV--most affordable all-electric car in US

Priced a little under $30,000, the 2012 Mitsubishi i-MiEV is the most affordable all-electric car in the U.S.market.

Starting manufacturer's suggested retail price, including destination charge, is $29,975 for an i-MiEV ES model with 66-horsepower electric motor, a 16-kilowatt lithium-ion storage battery and a one-speed, direct drive transmission

Placed higher than the 106 mpg-e city rating of the 2012 Nissan Leaf electric car but less than the 132 mpg-e of the upcoming Honda Fit EV, i-MiEV makes an interesting combination. The five door and very little hood in the front body fulled with 126 miles-per-gallon-equivalent rating from the federal government in city driving.

Compliment goes for the rear-wheel drive of i-MiEV which gives a similar experience of driving like any other gasoline-electric hybrid cars. Even to its electric brakes and their firm, realistic pedal.

Even with such amazing features loaded, the i-MiEV drivers have to keep a close eye on mileage range, because like all solely electric cars, this little hatchback can't go far on a full charge. Indeed the U.S. government estimates the i-MiEV range at 62 miles on a full charge. Typical time to fully recharge would range from 7 to 22 hours, depending on the charger.

The i-MiEV has stiff competition from the most popular all-electric cars in the United States; the front-wheel drive Nissan Leaf which has a starting retail price, including destination charge, of $36,050 for a base, 2012 SV with 107-horsepower electric motor, 24 kilowatt lithium-ion battery and a single-speed reducer tranny. The federal government estimates a 73-mile range for the Leaf on a full charge.

The front-wheel drive, 2012 Chevrolet Volt, which has a plug-in electric motor plus a gasoline engine on board for short, around-town, all-electric trips plus long-range, gas-engine travel, has a starting retail price of $39,995. The Volt's electric-only range is just over 30 miles, but the federal government estimates a 397-mile travel range when both electric motor and gasoline engine is also up against the i-MiEV.

All these vehicles are eligible for a one-time federal income tax credit of $7,500. But buyers must wait for this credit until they file their tax documents for the calendar year in which they made their vehicle purchase. Some states and cities provide incentives, too.

Mitsubishi started offering the i-MiEV on the West Coast late last year and is beginning to expand sales across the nation this summer.