A few months back I did a giveaway/promotion to celebrate the imminent release of a groundbreaking electric car, the Mitsubishi i. After researching the car for that article I was super excited because it looked as though greener cars, and electric in particular, were starting to become more affordable and within the reach of average folks. The starting MSRP is $29,125 and the net MSRP* after a federal tax credit is a very affordable $21,625 for the standard ES model and only $23,625 for the SE upgrade, making the starting price for the all-new Mitsubishi i several thousand less than other comparable electric vehicles available in the market. It is now recognized as the Greenest Vehicle of 2012 by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy.
Now I am not yet in the market for a new car because either fortunately or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it, my older model sedan (2000) refuses to break down. She keeps on kickin and as long as she does I have no reason to buy another vehicle…even though I feel like I have Wall-e and everyone else has Eva. That said though I am already saving my pennies for the day when I will have to replace my car and I am doing research now so that I will know what I want. So I was over the moon to get the chance to drive the Mistusbish i last week, thanks to Mitsubishi Motors. The picture above was taken the day they dropped it off. I could barely wait to get behind the wheel!
I just love how small and stylish it is…
My previous experience with electric cars was pretty minimal. I drove a Ford Focus EV a couple months ago in Detroit but only got to get behind the wheel for 5 minutes or so. Still I knew it would be quiet (compared to a regular vehicle) and that I would need to be mindful of battery usage since this car is battery only, not a hybrid that also takes gas. From the get-go you know something is very, very different. When you turn the key in the ignition you do not hear that familiar rumble of the engine starting up, instead you hear a little beep and you see a “ready” light on the dash. You are now ready to drive. So very cool!
I am not sure if it is because electric cars are so unusual here in Central Ohio, the California plates on an EV car in Ohio, or if it the looks of the car but the Mitsubishi i got lots of attention everywhere I drove it. I had people wait for me to park and then approach me to gab about it and often times people walked around it in parking lots or pointed and chatted up their friends about it. It was an attention getter for sure!
A feature that I LOVED was that I had the ability to plug in my iPod and see my entire playlist on the dashboard screen. No need to burn CDs or listen to the radio, just take the iPod from the sound dock in the house and plug it into the car, easy peasy. The entire family has music and other audio files on this iPod so the uses are endless. And yes I know many newer cars have this feature but remember that I currently drive a dinosaur…so I was in love with this feature okay?? Oh and yes again…that IS in fact a first generation iPod. It is a dinosaur too.
Another awesome feature related to that display is that there is a camera on the back of the vehicle which shows you your rear view when backing out. It took me a while to get used to this, trusting the screen instead of physically looking behind me, but once I did get used to it I really liked it. The display also offers turn by turn navigation. Most smart phones can do this too but having the directions on a big screen right near my field of vision is much safer!
What I liked most about driving an electric vehicle though is that it forces me to be a more mindful driver. Because you are operating on battery power and can’t just slip into the gas station and fill up you have to plan your trips and perhaps drive less overall to make it work. I was very mindful of where I needed to go and how much battery it would take to get there. It never presented a problem because we generally stick pretty close to our home but if we wanted to go across town then we would need to find a charging station nearby or we might choose to go to Easton Mall to see a movie rather than Marcus Cinemas since the former has parking spots with EV charging stations. We might decide that the library is now only feasible once a week instead of two. Some may find this restricting but I found it wonderful. Sometimes it is hard to make changes unless you are forced to and anything that forces me to be more mindful and green is fine by me.
I also liked playing around with the different drive modes on the Mitsubishi i. It directly affected the way the car drove and how much battery was used up.
Drive worked just like a regular car. The Eco and B modes create maximum economy and maximum regenerative brake power. I didn’t even notice much of a difference in acceleration capability but both of these modes enable a clever regenerative braking system that automatically reclaims the energy from deceleration and charges the battery. After initially testing out the regular drive mode I stuck with with Eco and more often the B mode exclusively. I loved that as soon as my foot left the gas the car started started slowing to a stop, without my even having to touch the breaks.
Another awesome feature is money savings. Plugging the car in at night instead of filling up at the station was cost effective. I don’t know for sure what the actual cost to my electric bill will be yet but according to the Mitsubishi web site the average cost is $3.60 per 100 miles. At that rate we would be spending $7-12 a week or $40-50 a month for transportation. Right now we easily spend $50 or more a week on gas. According to the savings calculator on the Mitsubishi site, it would save us about $2500 a year. That is a significant cost savings!
Other stuff to like included all the room in this car. It looks kinda tiny from the outside but it was very, very roomy on the inside. It seats four people and all have lots of wiggle room. The trunk area is kind of small but the hatchback design helps with that and for our lifestyle the size would not be a hindrance at all. We don’t do crazy bulk shopping at Costco and we don’t need a car that can transport furniture. We do have five members in our family though so that could present an issue but if we kept a second car as backup, which most people do, we could easily make this car work for us. Especially since this would not be the car we would do any travelling in.
The key remote is also pretty cool. You can pre-heat (important in Ohio) or pre-cool the car remotely without ever having to go outside. Not only is that super convenient it also helps conserve battery if you are to do this first thing in the morning, before unplugging your car. No battery will be used to heat or cool the car that way.
This is a shot of the truck area with plenty of room. The bag there has the charging cord and the seats can be folded down for even more room. Since I generally don’t buy in bulk and I like to do my shopping without kids this car would be perfect for our needs.
Now on to the drawbacks…there are only a few. The car seemed to drift a bit more than I am used to on the highway, in high winds. This is no doubt due to the car being so small and relatively light. The car doors also seemed very light and when my kids shut them they didn’t seem to have the weight behind them to ensure a tight seal. Maybe my kids are just used to heavy doors but at any rate I often found upon starting the car that a child had left the door slightly ajar during our last trip and I had to get out and shut it before I could proceed. That is a small annoyance though and something that might remedy itself over time, as they got used to the car.
Overall I was greatly impressed by this EV. Even though it is a 4 passenger and we are a family of 5 I would still buy it. I love how it made me a more mindful driver and I love how much money it would save us if this were to become our regular car. The price also makes it very affordable. I just cannot fathom paying some of the current prices for EVs, hybrids, and plugin hybrids. In fact I can hardly fathom paying a new car price for any vehicle but this car has me singing a different tune because the price is low compared to other electric vehicles on the market and all the ways we would ultimately be putting money back into our pockets with cost savings benefits. The i-Miev puts the oh so cool electric car within the reach of the average Joe or Jane.
Disclosure: I borrowed a Mitsubishi i from Mitsubishi Motors and their representative for the purposes of this review. Sadly I had to give it back…
A few weeks back I went to Detroit for Ford’s #GoFurther press event. I have been seriously remiss in not posting about it before now because it was seriously fun and provided me with some moments that were most likely once in a lifetime. I am extremely grateful to Ford for the generous invite.
The event was designed to give bloggers and other media the opportunity to see what Ford has been able to accomplish recently and what they have yet to come. There were four areas of interest that we covered…Design, Tech, Urbanization, and Eco-Psychology. The latter was my favorite and it is easy to understand why but I also quite enjoyed hearing about Ford’s accomplishments and plans in regards to tech and urbanization. For instance, I was wowed by their business decision to work closely with ZipCar and provide cars for college campuses. ZipCar is an amazing, useful, and green service and Ford is ahead of the 8-ball by creating a relationship with an organization who caters to folks who either don’t want or don’t need to own cars. Over and over again I kept thinking that this or that decision or project was just so clever. Ford really does have a pulse on the future.
But back to the beginning… I was in Detroit for this event from June 26-28. It kicked off on a Tuesday and as soon as I landed the fun began when I saw this smiling face at the airport, waiting for me.
This is my online and IRL friend Stephanie of Good Girl Gone Green. I just cannot tell you how much I adore his lovely lady. Seeing her again, and the other lovely green gals who went, was the highlight of the trip.
Stephanie and I dropped off our stuff at the Hyatt Regency Dearborn and then immediately jumped a bus to visit Greenfield Village, which is right next to the Henry Ford Museum. The village is comprised of one hundred historical buildings that were moved to the property from their original locations and arranged in a “village” setting. It shows how Americans lived and worked since the founding of the country. We ate at a restaurant called Eagle Tavern, built in Clinton, Michigan, in 1831 as a stagecoach stop for weary travelers. They only serve food there that you could have ordered in that era and all the waitstaff are costumed. I got a supremely delicious chicken salad. It was actually a side dish on the menu, as were the dressed tomatoes with lemon vinaigrette that Stephanie ordered, but I found it to be quite filling. Yum!
All around the village cars like this were driving this way and that…
And it wasn’t just cars. There were horse drawn carriages and wagons and a huge train that practically blew your eardrums out when it whistled. We also saw these folks playing croquet…
Afterwards we hoofed it to a party/press event at Ford Field (where the Detroit Lions play). We got to walk around the place and even go down on the field.
Oh and look who we just bumped into and spoke with…Bill Ford. That is Diane of Big Green Purse and Shane of Environmental Booty chatting him up in the photo. Two more gals I am lucky to claim as friends.
The next day was when we went to all the various sessions/tracks to get more in depth information about Ford initiatives.
In the Design session we sat in on a panel with several folks including Christina Siriano who won Project Runway and Adam Kalkin who had the genius idea to repurpose shipping containers as homes!
In the Eco-Psychology session, which was my fave, I sat just a few feet away from someone I greatly admire for his work in the green-o-sphere….Adrian Grenier of Entourage and SHFT.com fame. I have been a fan since he was in the teen movie Drive Me Crazy in which he played a greenie, hippie type.
In the evening we had a dinner party at Tech Shop Detroit and I fell in love with the business concept. They have every industrial machine/tool that you could ever possibly hope to need or use and a monthly membership fee ($100 a month) gives you access to all of it. It has industrial sewing machines, woodworking machines, welders, paint rooms, kilns…everything. The idea is that innovators can come up with ideas and then try to create them using the tools and machines that they would otherwise not have access too. Not having the skill or the equipment is not an excuse…if you have a grand idea for an invention that will change the world or just be really, really awesome now you have the means to bring it to fruition. My husband has ideas for stuff all the time which he then tells me he cannot do unless he has this or that piece of equipment. A facility like this (there are 5 in the US right now) is his dream and he really, really wants a TechShop to come to Columbus right about now.
This shop was built in partnership w/Ford. Just another aspect of them being ahead of the curve in every aspect.
Bits and pieces form Days 1 and 2:
- Bill Ford never wants any of his employees or friends to feel like they need to apologize for working at Ford in regards to corporate responsibility.
- He actually aspired to go out on his own and create an environmental foundation but his wife convinced him to stay and change Ford instead.
- Ford’s ideas on sustainability stem from cradle to cradle concepts like turning paint fumes into fuel and waste water into drinking water.
- They want to make clean vehicles and recycle them entirely. Currently 85% of their vehicles are recyclable.
- They have cut energy usage and CO2 emissions 50%.
- Ford will have Zipcars on 230 college campuses.
- Much of Ford Field is recycled from various parts of the city and an entire brick paved, historical street (Adams St) actually runs through the stadium.
By far my fave day of the event was day three. We spent it at Ford’s test track and we got to drive cars!! It was so beyond fun and truly was a once in a lifetime opportunity.
Driving in a Ford Mustang with a Ford driver. We raced, and I do mean raced, through the track and even drifted on the turns. It was terrifying and exhilarating at the same time.
Here is Stephanie and Anna (of Green Talk) in their Mustangs:
Next up was the Ford Police Interceptor Utility, which I got to drive.
Then a Ford Focus electric! Woot! I have always wanted to drive an electric vehicle and it drove like a dream.
Lastly, I got to go off-road in a Raptor on a dirt track w/a Ford Driver and Anna. Fun! At one point I swear we were completely vertical going down a hill. We could not even see ground beneath us. Our butts barely touched the seats the whole time and I hung on for dear life! There may or may not have been some screaming. ;)
After all that excitement we had lunch and Ford and various sponsors gave away a bunch of prizes like Windows phones and Xboxes. I won an HD tabletop radio! Then I hopped on a plane and said goodbye to the Motor City.
Many thanks to Ford for the trip. They paid for all travel, activities, food, and accommodations. I was not obligated to write about the trip but heck, who wouldn’t????!
I leave you with a photo of us green gals who attended. The photo is courtesy of Shane at Environmental Booty. From left to right: Diane, Stephanie, me, Shane, and Anna.
See more of my trip photos on Flickr.
One of the really fun things I got to do on my trip to Detroit for the auto show (NAIAS ) was go to the Henry Ford Museum. I got to see an exhibit that has not opened to the public yet AND had a catered dinner right there among all the amazing cars. I felt kinda bad being there without my Dad though… he would have loved it! I did however, get to have dinner with some amazing green mom friends.
As a big history buff I just love museums so this was right up my alley even if cars really aren’t.
The highlights for me had to be the car Kennedy was in when he was assassinated…
The chair Abraham Lincoln was sitting in when he was assassinated…
And Rosa Park’s Bus.
We even got to sit inside the bus. Amazing.
My daughter thought Kennedy’s car and Lincoln’s chair were morbid when I showed her the photos. It was a very solemn experience seeing them and one I won’t soon forget. That is what I love about history, how it can reach out and grab you, and make you teary eyed even many years after the fact. It makes us think, and remember, and think some more. It makes us wonder what we would do if we were put in certain historical situations. Would we be that brave? Would we be that honorable? Would we stand for that injustice?
** Ford Motor Company paid for my travel and accommodations at the 2-day Innovation and Design Fantasy Camp event, I was not compensated in any other manner for my time. Opinions posted here are my own.**
I mentioned a few days ago that I would be traveling a bit and I actually just got back from Detroit yesterday evening after a whirlwind trip. The last few days were spent in the Motor City enjoying the North American International Auto Show. Ford sponsored the trip so obviously most of what I experienced was viewed through Ford colored glasses. It was a spectacular experience and I learned a lot about subjects that I am woefully uneducated in. For three days I learned about auto manufacturing, sustainability innovations and plans, marketing, and of course Ford’s new pride and joy, the brand new Ford Fusion models coming out in the Fall.
Oh, and don’t tell Ford but the BEST thing about the trip was that they invited several of my friends as well. It was a great experience anyway but great experiences are always maximized when you get to experience them with people you care about right? So I cannot go without sharing those particular highlights first… namely Diane at Big Green Purse, Jenn at The Green Parent, Anna at Green Talk, and Stephanie Moram of Good Girl Gone Green. The first three I have known and spoken with for several years via a green moms group and Stephanie is a fairly new blogger that has become a fast friend.
Below is Stephanie, Mara (a Canadian Blogger), Jenn, and Anna. Love these ladies!!
Okay, so the purpose of the trip. Well, I think it differed for everyone who was invited because we all had very different backgrounds. There were 150 bloggers invited form all over the world. There were bloggers from Turkey, South Africa, France, Spain, and Canada for instance. Few of the bloggers actually write about cars though. There were fitness bloggers, fashion bloggers, design bloggers, daddy bloggers, mommy bloggers, and of course green bloggers. I think everyone had their own interests and take away from the show so I can only speak to my own.
I went into this experience knowing next to nothing about green cars. What I knew about hybrids, electric cars, and other greener car options was not enough to fill a 30 second elevator speech. Mostly this is because they are out of my price range and I have never had to do in depth comparisons as I would if I were buying some other product. I have three vehicles at the moment and the “youngest” is over 12 years old. All were bought used. I believe in buying used and not buying something that will depreciate after I drive it off the lot. I hate car payments with a passion. But for a couple years now I have toyed with the idea of getting a newer, used Ford Focus. Some family members of mine had one and I know they get good gas mileage. Of course after this trip what I REALLY want is a Ford Fusion, which was in many ways the star of the show at the NAIAS. I gravitated towards the sea foam green car as you can see but it’s not just the color that knocks this baby out of the park. This particular Ford Fusion is a plugin hybrid and it gets 100+ MPGe. Being as ‘out of the loop’ as I was, I never even knew such a thing was possible. For the record the Ford Fusion (Eco boost engine) gets 37 mpg, the Hybrid get 47 mpg. All three are great options. If you check out Ford’s web site you can see better photos of them and get more info.
Another interesting tidbit is that the chief engineer working on the Fusion stated that 90% of the car is recyclable and they are working on all the plastic components to eventually bring that to 100%.
I have had to stop and think about the idea that I may lean toward Ford BECAUSE of this experience and honestly I may. Since I knew nada about green cars I have no special place in my heart for a Prius or any other well publicized green car. It is thanks to Ford’s generosity in deciding to educate me that I now have more knowledge about this issue. I think that a used Ford Focus is still the most likely option in my future but other possibilities are now on my radar. I think the cost savings would be worth it to eventually purchase a Fusion hybrid or plugin hybrid. One of the things that helped solidify that in my ever frugal mind was the fact that these cars (hybrids/electric) hold their value, unlike most regular automobiles. This may be hyped a bit but I did hear a Ford exec saying in a conversation that he has seen some used Ford cars coming in with 300,000 miles on the original battery. That is phenomenal if it is true.
Some of the other green bloggers and I spent some time walking the show and comparing the Fusion with other hybrid and electric hybrid offerings. There were really only two that stacked equally or perhaps better in my mind. Most of the other offerings were lacking. One company in particular had a plugin hybrid for a whopping 67K price tag. Ford has yet to announce the pricing structure for these new cars but I am optimistic it will be more reasonable. Folks in my neck of the woods can buy a decent house for that earlier price. It was nice to be there with some green bloggers who knew enough about the subject matter to ask the tough questions and help us all make better comparisons.
This is Diane, firing away with her questions. She is even more amazing in person than I ever knew and I so enjoyed meeting her. She is amazing!
Of course this trip went beyond the unveiling of the new cars. All the bloggers that attended also got to speak one on one with many Ford executives, go to Ford World Headquarters, and the Ford Product Development Center. We saw how they are using digital advances to reduce costs and use fewer resources. When they have gone as far as they can with digital images and design THEN they make scale and full size models out of plasticized clay. They reuse as much of that clay as they possibly can. This is most likely about dollars and cents more than sustainability but I love how intimately connected those two things seem to be at Ford. Another example would be all the money and research spent in designing sustainable materials for the interior of their cars. They are working with coconuts, soy, corn, wood fibers, wheatgrass, and other natural materials to make plant based plastics and other car components like their soy seat cushions. This helps them get an edge in the green market of course but it also helps them reduce the weight of their cars. That translates into better fuel economy and a more attractive car for consumers.
None of the auto makers will likely appreciate this thought but the fact that money can be such a huge motivator to make them go green further proves to me that government legislation is needed. Our government needs to step up and give them incentive and/or deadlines for making gains in greater fuel economy, sustainability in materials and manufacturing, and a greener life cycle all around. But that said I still think Ford is making progress. Much of what we saw at their product development center was stuff they have been working on for many, many years. And a brief Ignite presentation by a Futerist at Ford made me more aware of how they plan for what the world and society will look like years down the road. We may not know they are working on solutions to what may impact us ecologically down the road, but they are. They want to remain profitable no matter what so they plan for every possible future. I am SURE that planning includes rising to overcome tougher Government legislation in auto making.
In addition to an appreciation of their green initiatives I also like the company. Scott Monty, the head of social media for Ford, was a really fun and likeable guy. I also met a man at the dinner on Sunday night who is a 4th generation employee of the company. He insisted that this in no way makes him unique though. I think it says something really powerful when people spend their entire careers at one company and their kids and grandkids do as well. It is also still a family business, despite its size. We saw William Ford at the press conference. This experience definitely made me more aware of Ford as a company but also as a group of really talented and interesting people.
This write-up has gotten really lengthy so I think I will wrap and post about some other aspects of the trip later. Inevitably people wonder if Ford sponsoring such a trip will influence one in their favor. I am not rushing out to buy a new car but the possibility is now on my radar more than ever. This is in large part because I actually know a little something about what is on the market now and not from a magazine article. I have seen these cars, touched them, sat in them, and spoken to people who had a hand in designing them. How can that not influence me? It does. I will still being doing research to find the best car for me if and when I am in a position to actually buy a hybrid or plugin hybrid (probably the former). I will however being comparing them with the amazing cars I saw at Ford this week.
Visit www.dearbornclassics.com to learn more about Ford auto parts and accessories and to shop for Ford products online.
** Ford Motor Company paid for my travel and accommodations at the 2-day Innovation and Design Fantasy Camp event, I was not compensated in any other manner for my time. Opinions posted here are my own.**