First off, please forgive me if I am posting this in the wrong place in the forum. I am very new here, and quite honestly very new to electric car ownership, and I am rather clueless so please pardon my ignorance.
Let me give a little background on this issue, and then please seek any advice I can get from other i-MiEV owners out there, to help make my "journey" a little less horrifying and a little more realistic.
I have a large gas-guzzling 2018 RAM 2500 truck, as well as a Toyota Avalon sedan. I have always avoided electric cars, because of different facets of my lifestyle (towing a large 5th wheel trailer for camping, commuting long distances for work), however recently my career now has me permanently situated in the corporate office of my company, which is only 2 miles from my door. This is permanent.
So - I wanted to take the plunge and "try" an electric car by buying an inexpensive one, and based on how much I loved it, in the next 5 years I would invest in a nice luxury electric car.
In investigating heavily, I chose the Mitsubishi i-MiEV, because the small range was of no concern to me, since I would be commuting every day to the office and back, so it was a very short commute.
I live in Little Rock Arkansas, and I wanted a used i-MiEV, so I took to shopping online. I found a 2016 i-MiEV at a dealership in South Florida, and it has 9,300 miles on it. One owner, clean CarFax, and the dealer sent me dozens and dozens of detailed photos and videos. I ordered the car to be delivered to my door. The car was delivered Thursday, 4/2/2020.
During this time while the purchase was being processed, I did extensive research on the car; the different driving modes, how surface metro driving was more efficient than freeway driving, how to properly charge your vehicle using Mitsubishi recommended methods, I even studied the entire owner's manual. I contacted Mitsubishi corporate customer service, and they verified that the factory warranty is intact and in-place, and that the battery is still covered to 100,000 miles, and my coverage is good until 2024. Armed with all of this information, I felt confident that this would be the perfect local commuter vehicle for me. I cleared the left side of the garage, and I even had an electrician put in a brand new dedicated 20-amp line with GFI next to where the car would be parked, so that I could take advantage of the 12-amp setting on the i-MiEV charger.
When the car arrived, it was everything I expected - it looked showroom new, every detail was perfect... and I verified the mileage was indeed a hair over 9,300 miles. It already had 1/3 charge still on the battery, so I parked it in its new home and plugged in the charger on 12 amps. Everything was completely as expected. So far, I was a happy camper.
The next morning I wanted to start driving the car to work. I disconnected the charging cable, got in, and turned the vehicle on. Indeed the battery was at full charge, but the first thing I noticed was the range indicated only 51 miles. At first I thought this was unusual, since the supposed range is 60-ish miles, and I would expect there to be some degradation due to age, but with such a pristine car and such low mileage, I wondered. I shrugged my shoulders, and decided not to worry about it, since my commute is so incredibly short.
Now, I am not a lead-foot by nature... I understand the need of efficiently driving the car. I drive the car in B mode mostly, but I have also used ECO mode. I noticed that going to the office, and then at the end of the day coming back, uses hardly ANY of the range at all. Looks good. This means that a full charge should last me a number of days (ideally) - and I will never charge the battery unless it is run down as the manual indicates. However since this was the first day driving the car, I did drive it around town quite a bit just to experience the car... like going by the post office drop off drive-through, I went to FedEx, the pharmacy etc. - quite a lot of driving. When I got home the battery was down to about 1/4 capacity and the mileage range left was very low, so I plugged it into the charger and went to bed.
Yesterday, I had to meet my stepdaughter half-way between our homes to bring her some face masks (she couldn't find any and deals with the public in her job, and with all of this COVID-19 stuff going on, I wanted to give her half of my supply). Meeting her would mean an 18-mile drive (she lives around 39 miles away). The car by yesterday morning was at full charge again, and she wanted to see the car, so I told her I would meet her. I pulled up my smart phone and calculated the route using all surface driving to avoid very high speeds (here in Arkansas, on the freeway if you don't speed well over the speed limit, people want to mow you over - its really ridiculous and dangerous LOL). Easy enough, I got the route all set and it was just a hair under 18 miles.
I got into the car, and sure enough - it was at full charge again, showing 52 miles as a range. I thought to myself that I would drive efficiently, use the B mode, and keep all acceleration within the "eco" range on the dash as much as possible. So I started the drive....
I already decided from the start, with mild weather here, I would never use air or heat - just crack the windows and smile LOL - to maximize my range. For this whole adventure, this is how I drove - no air, no heat, nothing - just driving.
By the time I approached our meeting point (a mall parking lot), the car showed that the battery was under 1/2 discharged, and my remaining range was only 19 miles. Something told me that the battery and range were inaccurate, in that they were discharging much faster than I thought they should. I began to panic, and I pulled up one of the many Charging Station finder apps in my phone. I found out that the particular area where we were was not like where I live in downtown Little Rock, where there are chargers ALL over the place. Here, in this area (Benton/Bryant), the only place listed was a Fairfield Inn & Suites. They were just a couple miles away, so I called. One of the nicest ladies I think I have ever spoken to answered the phone, and I told her of my concern.... she told me that I was welcome any time to come by and plug in to their chargers - at no cost - and that was a great surprise to me! So maybe there was still hope for me yet LOL.... I made it there, but sadly 6 of the 8 chargers were for Tesla, and the other two were the standard style plugs (the i-MiEV home charger-style plugs), so this would take a while. I parked and plugged in, and had my stepdaughter meet me there. She even brought us lunch, so we sat and visited for a couple of hours as the car charged. She was quite taken by its unusual styling... it was a nice visit. She finally left for home, and I sat back in the car for a bit...
At this time I did an even deeper search into charging stations. Now, since I had to travel a couple extra miles to get to this Fairfield Inn, I was about 22 miles from home. After loading every app under the sun (so many of them are quite inaccurate I find), I stumbled across one of the apps called "Electrify America", so I installed that one as well. Now I had around half a dozen charge locating apps on my phone LOL. But I noticed that "Electrify America" had an 8-space charging station at a Walmart Supercenter that was about 15 miles away, and was only slightly out of my way - it was about 15 miles away, and my battery had increased by now to a little over half, and the range now indicated 22 miles. I didn't want to sit at the Fairfield Inn forever, but I didn't want to risk driving home either - and the app said that this Electrify America location had a CHAdeMO charging port available. So I took a risk. I unplugged, and recalculated the route to the Walmart Supercenter using surface streets.
I arrived at the Walmart Supercenter, with a few miles left. I noticed that of the 8 charging spaces for Electrify America, just one was CHAdeMO. However it was not in use. I parked, and prepared to charge. In the app itself, I set up my new account, which links my bank card to the app, and as my balance falls in the app, it would re-fill automatically in 10-dollar increments. Easy enough.
I followed all the on-screen instructions, tapped my phone against the pad when told to, and charging started. The car got up to 31% charge quickly, and then abruptly stopped. "Charging complete, please unplug and move your vehicle within your 10-minute grace period". Hmm. 31% - not what I expected. I expected it to automatically charge to 80% and then stop.
So, I unplugged and started the process from the beginning, however this time no matter what I did, the charging station screen kept saying that it was still in-use, even though it was not. So, I called the toll-free number on the charging station for 24/7 support.
An extremely nice lady on the other end was very helpful and determined to help me get charged, since my choices were completely limited and I was worried about getting home. So, she remotely rebooted the charging station, multiple times, to get it to come back up. It was quite cold outside and now started drizzling (of course! LOL), but we persevered. When it finally finished booting back up (after the third remote restart), she stayed on the phone with me.... however now we noticed that the touch screen no longer functioned. It was completely dead. The touch screen showed all of the usual settings "plug in first, tap your phone etc. etc.", but none of my touches would register.
So, she rebooted once more, and this time she told me to plug in, and she would remotely start the charging session for me. Again, a VERY nice lady. I followed her instructions, connected, and she started the charge for me. The vehicle quickly (within 15 minutes) reached 80% charge, and the charging stopped. The screen displayed "please unplug and move your vehicle within your 10 minute grace period". She told me she finalized the transaction and I was good to go. I was pleased with the level of service I received. I thanked her, got back into my vehicle, and noticed I was at 80% charge level, with only 40 miles showing as a range, but that was MORE than enough to get me home. So I began the drive home.
Again, I noticed that the charge and range were going down faster than I thought they should.... my home at this time was about 18 miles away, yet when I got home I only had 12 miles left in my range and the battery had depleted again. So I put it back on the normal 12-amp charging and came into the house, somewhat worried.
Then, two hours later, when I picked up my cell phone I had repeated notifications from Electrify America - it stated that my car was STILL sitting there plugged-in! It stated that my 140 minutes of charging on their CHAdeMO port was now at $28.80, and my parking overtime was at an additional $40! I opened the app, signed-in, and it popped up with a timer showing that I was still there and never left. Wow. I called them right away, and they had to manually reboot that charging station again to get it to stop, and I am now waiting while they fix all the charges to my bank card.
Knowing Mitsubishi as having dealerships everywhere, I never felt it would be any type of concern finding one close by. However, when I registered my vehicle last night on the Mitsubishi Owners website, it tells me that the closest dealership to Little Rock is in Memphis, which is 135 miles away down the i40! But wait - I see Mitsubishi's all over town. Apparently a lot of the dealerships here in Little Rock are "combination" dealerships, for example Crane Hyundai also sells Mitsubishi. But apparently no dedicated Mitsubishi dealers. I was shocked by this. Registration recommended that I select the Memphis dealer as my official dealer, and that the Memphis dealer was EV Certified. There is only ONE charge station along that stretch of i-40 and it is well beyond the car's range, so I have to bring it on a trailer. Crap.
So now I will wrap this whole thing up....
- My car, although seeming to be like-new and low mileage, has a weird low range of 50-ish miles on full - is that normal?
- Am I doing something wrong to make the car discharge faster than it should? I drive with nothing on, no air, no heat etc., I am gentle on the accelerator, and I try to use B or ECO at all times...
- Do I really have to stick with a dealership so far away? This means every time I want the car serviced, I will have to rent a vehicle flat trailer from U-Haul and tow it to Memphis with my truck. That's crazy.
- Is my range/issue poor enough that I should speak to Mitsubishi about analyzing my system and looking into the battery warranty if needed? Or does this seem normal?
- have other people had similar issues using some of these public charging stations? Or was what happened to me rare?
So - after having owned the car for three days, my ownership experience has not been the best. I am not sure if this is all normal, or if I need to think twice about every buying another electric car. I understand all the limitations of the i-MiEV - again, I really did study this from all aspects, read until my eyes were going to fall out, and watched tons of videos. I am just not sure what I should do.
I truly hope that such an active community with so many nice owners (from what I have read so far!) can offer me some advice as a new owner, and can tell me if things will look brighter ahead. I really don't plan on driving anywhere else now, other than my office which is only 2 miles each way, so at least I won't have any more range anxiety, and I just know from now on if I ever leave the immediate metro area, I will only take my gas car. I REALLY want this to work. I love the car, its very quirky and fun. But am I expecting too much?
I truly appreciate any and all comments and advice - and I want to thank you all very much for putting up with my long-winded ramblings!
Warm regards to all,