Last week I, along with colleagues Sarah and David, test drove a new Mitsubishi i-MiEV (Mitsubishi Innovative Electric Vehicle) through WISE (Waterloo Institute for Sustainable Energy) at the University of Waterloo.  I was surprised by the general power, feel, responsiveness, and handling of the vehicle itself.  Even at 110 km/h on the highway, the i-MiEV felt road-worthy beside other gas-guzzling vehicles!

On a single charge, the i-MiEV has a total driving range of 155 kilometres – enough to almost get to Mississauga and back, for a total cost of approximately $2.00 (  In terms of cost, this is a relief from paying high prices at the gas pumps – although the i-MiEV retails for approximately $35,000.  However, does this technology really solve our transportation and mobility issues?

In the short term, maybe.  In the long term, no.  Although this is a next step in reducing our dependency on oil – it doesn’t help shift our behaviour as consumers and users of energy.  The i-MiEV helps us to feel better about reducing our emissions and our own bottom-lines.  This kind of technology and innovation is a band-aid approach to mitigating the effects of our energy-consuming habits.  Not to mention a shift in infrastructure to support charging these vehicles outside of your home.

I test drove the i-MiEV with a fleet sales representative from Mitsubishi and we had a good chat about the vehicle. But his mentality, like most in the retail, sales, and business arena, wasn’t connecting the pieces to the larger global picture.  How do we create more sustainable places to live by developing integrated transportation networks?  In what ways can this technology be used in other forms of transit, to reduce the number of vehicles with only one occupant?

The i-MiEV and other electric vehicle technology is certainly a positive step forward, and is a great option for vehicle fleets operated by municipalities, car shares, and other businesses (particularly for many of our RCI members).  However, we need to build a well connected infrastructure that supports multi-modal forms of transit and, ultimately, reduces our dependency on oil and hydro forms of energy.