Courtesy Flickr user @mariordo59

The Real Cost of EVs

When electric vehicles first hit the market in the 90’s they were too expensive for the average car buyer, and over a decade later, not much has changed.  Currently, consumers will pay the same price for an EV that they would for an entry-level luxury car.  For example, a Mercedes-Benz C-Class Sedan starts at $35,350 and a Nissan Leaf has an MSRP of $35,200.  Similarly, a 2012 Ford Focus Electric is priced at $39,200 and a Chevrolet Volt costs only $55 less than that.  Though the government offers a $7,500 tax credit for those who buy EVs, many are still unwilling to finance the pre-tax credit cost of an EV.

Fortunately for environmentally-conscious consumers, lately there have been a few cheaper EV options.  GreenTech’s MyCar, though not released yet, is expected to cost significantly less than the current EV average, and the base trim of the Mitsubishi i-MiEV retails for about $29,000.  With cheaper costs, however, quality concerns arise.  Just this week, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced that Mitsubishi is recalling its i-MiEV for airbag issues stemming from the car’s Safety Restraint System (SRS).

Sensors, Computers and Issues

According to the press release that broadcasted the recall, an erratic sensor in both the US Domestic Market and Canadian Market SRS computers causes the SRS warning light to illuminate on the dashboard even when it doesn’t detect anything wrong in the system.  Although this seems like an annoyance at most, when the light is on the car doesn’t continue to check for existing system errors.  Therefore, if an accident does occur and the light is illuminated, there is a high probability that the front and/or side air bags will either not deploy, or deploy long after the initial impact.

 

Courtesy Flickr user @mariordo59

Managing Expectations

Mitsubishi expects that 310 vehicles, about half of the i-MiEVs on the road in the United States and Canada, were equipped with the faulty sensor.  The Japanese automaker is encouraging owners of i-MiEVs that were manufactured between November 4, 2011 and December 22, 2011 to bring their vehicles into a nearby Mitsubishi dealership where the cars will be checked and the sensors replaced free of charge.

Though the i-MiEV is the most recent EV to be recalled, it is certainly not the first.  Recently the Chevy Volt was recalled because of a manufacturing error that made it likely that the car would start on fire, and the 2011 Nissan LEAF had a charging problem that prompted the need for computer upgrades in each vehicle.