Speaking at the launch of the new Mitsubishi Outlander, Mitsubishi Australia product planning manager James Tol confessed that the i-MiEV all-electric micro-hatch looks overpriced alongside larger competition like the Nissan Leaf, in particular, but also the Holden Volt.
“We’ll have to review it [repricing],” said Tol. “It [Leaf] certainly makes it hard, it really forces our hand.
“That [lowering the price] would make sense to the buying public. They would expect to buy the i-MiEV for less. It’s a smaller car [than Leaf] that’s the reality.”
Nissan lowered the entry sticker of its Pulsar-sized Leaf to $46,990 driveaway earlier this month, while the Holden Volt costs $59,990. The Mitsubishi i-MiEV currently retails for $48,800 plus on road costs.
However Tol cautioned that Mitsubishi won’t necessarily try to chase Leaf sales. The Nissan has recorded 71 sales in Australia to November, compared with only 14 i-MiEVs.
“It all comes back to what we try to do with the i-MiEV. It is not a car we’re trying to get volume sales with. It’s job – and it’s already done it’s job – is to make it known that we have class leading electric vehicle technology, and we do.”
The forthcoming Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV (Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicle), expected to be priced from $50K, may also cause a repositioning of the i-MiEV, although Tol says reducing i-MiEV pricing could prove difficult given the cost of battery technology – the all-electric i-MiEV needs more cells than the Holden Volt-like series hybrid Outlander.
“It all comes down to battery pricing. Nissan is struggling with it, we’re struggling with it… Holden as well.
“Unfortunately, bigger batteries again they’re more expensive again. The biggest expense is in the battery.”
Tol claims it is particularly difficult in Australia to lower EV pricing when there are no government incentives to do so.
“What compounds [the issue] in Australia is unfortunately there is no government support with EVs. In other countries there are big rebates and it needs to be that way to get the technology out there.
“You’ve got to drive the volume so you can drive the economies of scale. At the moment that’s not happening, so we’re waiting longer…”
The Mitsubishi i-MiEV uses a 49kW/180Nm electric motor (below), powered by a 16kWh battery pack. By comparison, a Nissan Leaf gets an 80kW/280Nm electric motor with power supplied by 24kWh lithium-ion batteries.