For $69 a month, drive home an electric car

A promotional lease deal on the Mitsubishi i-MiEV may give the plug-in market a boost by ushering in an unprecedented level of affordability.
Written by Tuan Nguyen, Contributor

For less than the monthly cost of a cell phone plan, you can lease a brand new Mitsubishi all-electric MiEV car.

First, let's get the fine print out of the way. The rare promotional offer, spotted by a reader on AOL's Autoblog Green at a Mitsubishi dealership in the city of Normal, Illinois, does involve some standard fees and other upfront expenses. Lessees can choose a payment plan that costs $69 per month for two years before having to return the car. With this option, lessees would be responsible for taxes, cost of title and license up front, estimated at around $2,100. Or they can go with a different arrangement in which the tax, title and license is rolled into the monthly payment, which comes out to $169 per month.

Both 24-month lease options don't require a down payment and compared to the Mitsubishi's 3-year, $249 a month official lease program, its simply a steal for someone looking for an environmentally and budget-friendlier way to get around town.

The Japanese manufacturer's flagship EV model hasn't been getting much attention due to its limited roll-out prior to last year, which probably leaves many of you wondering what exactly the plug-in offers commuters. With a combined city and highway fuel economy rating of 112 MPGe, the five-door hatchback was named "the greenest car of the year" by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy. Although the MiEV comes with an admittedly paltry 66 horsepower engine and 145 pound-feet of torque, it only weighs 2,579 lbs and is powered by small lithium-ion battery that's guaranteed for eight years or 100,000 miles.

Top speed is 81 mph and driving range is rated at 62 miles, though tests by Road & Track magazine found during extended 3,818-mile use of a 2012 model that the estimate may actually be rather modest, noting that the car “didn’t let us down. It under-promised and over-delivered. Nor did it give us any mechanical problems.” And with access to a quick-charge port, the battery can be recharged to 80 percent in half an hour.

Adopting an electric vehicle as a main mode of transport does mean owners would likely need to have charging ports installed. A salesman at the O'Brien Mitsubishi dealership, where the deal is being offered, told Autoblog that 90 percent of lessees are having Level 2 charging ports set up in their homes.

"It's a very small amount to pay," general manager Ryan Gremore told Autoblog.

The lack of affordability and attractive price points has long hampered the adoption of EVs. But if deals like this set off a price war that trends beyond Illinois, the situation will change dramatically.

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This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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